Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Look out Joel, sentiment below!!!!

This is a submission for Scribbit’s September’s Write Away Contest. Chas checks her blog often and suggested I submit something this time around. Sorry about all the touchy feely emotional stuff Joel, I know you’ll probably get the hives from reading this. If it is any consolation I promptly went over to a friend’s house and made some beer after writing this, does that help?



Blue. My son’s helmet is blue. There are other colors, other sensations vying for my attention, the sloppy clop of my running shoes as my feet slap the pavement, the ash gray asphalt, flecked and pitted, long over due for a reseal, the grass, sandy green, crunchy and long over due for a slow rain. Pollen and dust cling to my shoes almost as if they were rusted. I am bent over, leaning, running, and clutching at my son’s shoulder and bike seat as we struggle against gravity and seek balance, but from this limited vantage, all I really see is his blue helmet, overwhelming by proxy. He is struggling with his handle bars, and I am bent and running, trying to get enough air, straining not to fall over, and arguing with myself about whether not I should just let go.


This is our third day at this. If I was a better father, we would have been doing this months ago, maybe even last summer, but that is my fault and not his, for now he is struggling with all the effort a 6 year old boy can muster. His cheeks are red and his knuckles are white, I gave up on convincing him to relax on lap three around the park, yesterday. His knees are grass stained and his hair is wet and plastered to his forehead under that blue helmet. I can sense him exploring with the handle bars and trying to figure out the lean. We are on the cusp, and both of us know it. I am using less and less pressure, I can straighten up a little to catch my breath every 20 yards or so.


“Take a break Dad?”

“Nah, I’m Ok Son, besides I think we are close. Too close to take a break.”

“Yeah, me too.”


Another twenty yards and sweat rolls down my forehead and into my eyes, I have to straighten up or fall and take us both out. I let go and he is gone…10 yards…20 yards…30 yards. He is on his own and he knows it. I jump up and down and pump both my fists in the air. I want to yell before I burst, but I hold it because I don’t want to scare him.


He doesn’t see it happen, but his world just shrunk a little while his horizon expanded exponentially. His legs are pumping fast and furious for just one little lap, that is his goal, that is all he wants, then he can have that candy bar I promised him. Next it will be two laps, then four. Tomorrow he won’t even care about laps, he’ll just worry about keeping up with his friend Jacob. The park is no longer a 10 minute walk for him, it will be 1 minute ride. He won’t be asking my wife and I to slow down for him, we’ll be telling him how far he can go before he has to wait for us to catch up.


That simple little act of balance, that trick with the inner ear, just complicated things a little for him too. Next summer pennies and nickels and dimes won’t be tools for learning to count, or toys to put in the box. They will be hoarded for comic books and candy on our Saturday rides into town. The year after that there will be dollars and allowances and chores in exchange for new grips or a BMX helmet, or maybe even a skateboard.


For now though, his little body is shrinking even more as he accelerates away from me. I can’t see it, but I know he is wearing a face splitting smile that only a six year old who just figured out he can do one more thing can wear. He is sitting Marine Corps straight, eyes fixed ahead like I taught him, and I can hear him giggle when he over corrects and goes off the path, all knees and elbows and flickering shiny bike parts, wobbling and weaving with maniacal purpose, all hanging from under his tiny little blue helmet.



12 comments:

joel said...

Sweet! Just count the days til he starts dropping you on group rides too!!

Scribbit said...

You've done touchy feely first timers proud :)

Sweet little blue helmet . . .

Chas said...

Consider this a freebie comment. I'm not normally quite so generous, but you already know that ;o)

a Tonggu Momma said...

I came over from Scribbit and just wanted to say that I loved this post!

jubilee said...

My son is seven and still learning to master bike riding so this well written post really hit home. So poignant!

Gabrielle said...

I got a face splitting smile reading your story! You write beautifully! I could see the whole thing play out! oooraaa! (my husband is a former Marine!)

durtdemon said...

That is awesome!! Good job Gavin!! Before you know it you'll be riding a mini bike!!!

Jeff Siena said...

That is a heart warming story of a father son tradition. My dad painfully hot glued cold cuts to me and gave me a few seconds head start until he let the dogs out. THAT'S THE WAY IT WAS! AND WE LIKED IT!

DocRage said...

My effort to write has been unwritten, leaving me bitter and deposed. One excerpt was that I'd be intriguingly impressed if Gavin could play Mozart's flute concerto in Cm on guitar using only his feet...and posting it on U TUBE.

DocRage said...

...sauntered through the whisperless town, carrying things unseen, but burdensome none the less. The travails of the recent past haunted him forward giddily, as if expecting a rush of nuances to tickle his senses. Approaching the undestined future with a sly wisp of a grin, the man reveled in the multitude of possibilities and the oncoming torrent of expectations.

DocRage said...

By the way, your blog is well written. I said that in the first attempt to post...and yes, the previous sample of writing is mine...more to follow...it is quite the repose.

beautiful banter said...

nice.