Riding A Bike

By: Tanya Ward Goodman

We took the training wheels off my daughter’s bike. We strapped on her knee-pads and elbow-pads and helmet and we coached her to “blast off” and “pedal like the wind” and “go, go, go.”

And she went. Without our help, she pedaled furiously for a few feet until she stopped abruptly and fell over.

“I can’t do it,” she said.

“But you did it,” we said.

“I’m bad at this,” she said.

“You’re great,” we said.

But by then it was too late. She’d already taken off her elbow-pads and knee-pads and helmet and left her pale blue bike on its side in the grass.

This is not an unfamiliar situation.

My daughter can read. She reads signs in restaurants and titles on books. She reads until I say, “wow, you’re reading!” And then she stops reading.

“I will never learn to read,” she says. “I’m a bad reader.”

I try not to say, “But you’re already reading!”

Sometimes I am able to hold my tongue and sometimes not.

It frustrates me that she is the one blocking her path. I want to say, “move out of the way,” but I try to understand.

My daughter is no longer a baby. Her body is tall and strong. Her vocabulary grows as fast as her legs and she will start first grade in the fall. She is nervous. She is afraid of change. She is afraid of failure. Her memory holds only a few years’ worth of experience. She doesn’t have any idea what the future will bring.

“I want to repeat kindergarten,” she says.

We all do, I think. But only until we see what else is out there.

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