I’m learning to fly,
but I ain’t got wings.
…Tom Petty (1991)
The grandkids were out last weekend and they brought their bikes – minus the training wheels. As I watched Dave run up and down the street behind them, it struck me that learning to ride a bike is akin to a fledgllng leaving the nest for the first time. It isn’t an easy or instinctive thing – you have to figure out the physics of two in-line rotating hoops, how to stay upright, and to avoid obstacles. But once you master all this, you have a freedom you never had in your life before – the freedom of movement. It won’t be long before you are on to a parent’s greatest nightmare – your driver’s licence.
So in a sense riding a bike is a metaphor for growing up. You try, you fail, you fall, you cry, you get up and try try again.
As a parent you want to shield your kids from the bumps an bruises of early life, but once they are on a bike you realize the futility of doing it. We all made mistakes as kids – our parents couldn’t prevent them. We all suffered the prangs, the bumps, the bruises. Our kids and grandkids are no different.
It doesn’t make it any easier to watch though.
And comin’ down
is the hardest thing.