“Laughter is sunshine; it chases winter from the human face.” Victor Hugo
My son, Julian, first learned to ride a bike on a Scoot Bike when he was four years old. If you’re not familiar with this concept, a Scoot Bike is a bike with no pedals, allowing children to learn to balance on their bikes before they learn to pedal. A child straddles the bike, walks it, and then–once comfortable–learns to sit back on the seat and balance while lifting his feet up off the ground.
“But…no pedals?” I said to my husband when he brought it home. “No training wheels?” Had he forgotten who our son was?
“Don’t be so skeptical!” My husband had enthused. “The guy at the bike shop told me that most children master the whole cruise and balance thing within just a few hours! So, Jules should be riding this bike like a pro within a week–if that!”
I raised my eyebrows, no appropriate words popping into my mind.
“Oh, come on!” he had slapped me playfully on the back. “Have faith in our boy!”
Faith…I had thought…or maybe a good laugh?
It turned out to be the latter.
Round one through five went like this: “Focus, Julian, FOCUS!”
Round two through ten: “Jules–hey! Look where you’re going! Stop staring at those ducks!”
Round eleven through…?? “Okay, little buddy. It’s all you. YOU are in charge of the steering now. YOU are in charge of the balancing. Let’s really try to–oh! Oh…geez…”
I can remember my husband shaking his head in defeat…again. This was back in April of 2012. About eight months prior to this day, my second son, Gabriel, had passed away, and only one month prior, I had miscarried another child, one that in my heart I had felt was a girl. Many of my days had been filled with sorrow, but on this particular day in April, I watched my son Julian learn to ride a bike, and I laughed.
And it felt good to laugh.
“Maybe he just prefers grass to cement? I offered, chuckling as Julian took his own path.
This first lesson on the Scoot Bike couldn’t have lasted much more than ten minutes, after which, Julian joyfully hopped off his bike to go pick some wildflowers instead. Then, to my amusement–and to his father’s dismay–he used those flowers to decorate his bike, jumping up and down in delight when the deed was done. Observing him–loving him–I couldn’t help but reflect back on all of the hours we’d put into soccer, gymnastics and various other sports over the past four years, all with the same results.
“Julian!” his father tried again.
But there were more flowers in the horizon–“Look, Mama! Daffodils!”–and I wasn’t quite ready yet to quit laughing with my child who was living.
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