Today my nine-year-old son rode a two-wheeler bike—without assistance and, incidentally, with discernible gusto.
This may not on the surface appear to be big news, but in fact it is because today was the first time.
A year ago, when he was eight, training wheels were required, a panting parent endeavoring to hold up the rear. That’s where he was then.
And this is where he is now.
We never pressured him, never told him kids half his age were flying through the streets with the greatest of ease. As his parents, we didn’t tell him we were riding our own bikes well before age eight. We didn’t say this was something he should learn to do.
We let him come to it in his own time.
And I am so glad we did.
Today he rode with confidence and enthusiasm. There was no pain—despite the occasional and requisite spill—no one forcing him to do something he wasn’t ready or inclined to do. He wanted this, and that determination led to his success.
We could have put our son a bike at age four. We could have spent a number of painstaking hours trying to make it happen. But waiting until he was ready, until he wanted it, simply made sense. And because he was ready and chose this, it was virtually effortless—for him and for us.
And, to me, that feels a whole lot better than being able to say, “My son rode a two-wheeler when he was four (or five or six or seven or eight).” His accomplishments are his, and as such he is allowed to have them in his own time.
My son can now ride a two-wheeler, and when he’s thirty years old and still able to ride a bike, it’s not going to matter that he came to it a few years after some of his peers.
Maybe much of what we try to rush falls into the same category—all the milestones we try to hurry along and check off the list.
But when we’re lucky, life is long. And it’s certainly not a race. Nor is it a contest.
Indeed, it’s a whole lot less painful when we give ourselves permission to do things only when we’re ready—and when we give others the same space.
In fact, it can be downright beautiful.