Of Time and Training Wheels

My little brother, Pete, is one of my favorite people on the planet.  He can (and will) talk to anyone.  He laughs easily.  He’s a great dad. And he rides bikes.

Here we are riding Pete’s first century in honor of our grandmother.  This is the only time on the ride I was ahead of Pete.

Photo courtesy of chrisflentye.com
Photo courtesy of chrisflentye.com

Pete is five years my junior.  I remember reading bedtime stories to him.  I remember walking him to kindergarten.  I remember tickling and teasing him mercilessly, per Big Sister Code.  I also remember holding the back of his bike seat while he learned to ride a bike without training wheels.

Last Monday, Pete’s five-year-old son learned to ride his bike without training wheels.  Pete and his wife, Lisa, sent me videos and pictures all morning long of my nephew’s progress.  I was one proud auntie watching my teensy nephew pedal his brains out.

I watched those videos at least ten times that day.  Each time I was a sniffling, blubbering, crying mess.  I’m proud of my nephew and his first two-wheeled adventure, but the tears sprang up from the fierce pride I have in my brother for being the kind of dad who plays with his sons, the kind of dad who spends his days off teaching them to ride bikes.

In the last video Pete gave his son a push start, let him go and then jogged beside him as his son pedaled down the road.  There’s a moment when my nephew looks up at my brother to make sure he’s still there.  My brother tells him, “Keep goin’!  Keep goin’!”

Time is a brief and beautiful blossom and as I watched my brother and my nephew, I knew down deep in the chambers of my heart that my little brother will never be completely ready to let his son go.

In that moment I also knew that as my nephew grows into a man and faces the joys and hardships of life, he’ll always have his dad beside him encouraging him to keep going.

What a wonderful place this world would be if we all had someone to help us take our training wheels off, to hold us steady and then to propel us forward, covered in words of encouragement.

What a wonderful place the world would be if we all decided to be that person.

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