"I might fall," he would say. "It will hurt," he would continue. And although my husband and I would combat these complaints with encouragement and typical parent-isms like "Once you learn, you'll never forget" and "If you fall, you can get right back up," I was secretly relieved he didn't have the inclination to conquer his fears.
I'm really not a helicopter mom. I don't want to hover over my children forever, just until they are big enough to defend themselves against the dangerous world outside. I know, I know. As the mom of boys I need to get over it already, but I can't help it. The very thought of him hopping on his two wheels and speeding off toward freedom filled me with dread. And yet ...
So, when, at nine years old he decided to finally overcome his anxiety, I was right there, encouraging, running alongside cheering. Then I let go. And, in a way, so did he. He wobbled, fell. Got up and wobbled some more, and fell a few more times. Then, he found his pedals, got some speed and wheeled beyond my reach into a slightly bigger world.
As I write it now, the moment brings tears to my eyes. Because, the riding of a bicycle is a symbol of something greater that we as parents long for and fear at the same time.
So, I let him go, and showered him in prayers from a distance, as I'm sure I will be doing from further and further away as he grows into a young man.