Poetry Friday is hosted by Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass
I drove home from school yesterday by way of our old house, which sat towards the end of a long, leafy street. The perfect street for riding bikes, skateboarding, and setting up lemonade stands on hot summer days. My children did all of that, long ago, and it was in search of those nostalgic memories that I decided to take this route on this particular Spring day. About half way up the street I could see a little fellow learning to ride his bike. Mom was right behind him, and I could hear her shouts of encouragement. She was holding on and he was pedaling furiously. So as not to appear like a stalker lady from a scary TV show, I didn’t do what I wanted to do, namely slow down and take in this lovely moment. I kept going, stealing glances in my rearview mirror as long as I could.
As I reached the end of the street, I realized that I’d forgotten the reading journals I had meant to grade that evening. So I turned around and headed back to school. There they were, still working towards that magic moment when mom would release her grip and the little one would pedal off on his own. Soon, I was back in my now deserted middle school. I retrieved the journals, resisted the urge to stay and do anything more, and headed home again.
And there they were again. This time, mama was quite a distance behind, and son was moving along at a brisk pace…smiling from ear to ear. I loved being a part of this little ritual – one of the first steps towards freedom and independence for kids, and of letting go for parents.
I learned to ride
the two wheel bicycle
with my father.
He oiled the chain
clothes-pinned playing cards
to the spokes, put on the basket
to carry my lunch.
By his side, I learned balance
and took on speed
centered behind the wide
handlebars, my hands
on the white grips
my feet pedaling.
One moment he was
holding me up
and the next moment
although I didn’t know it
he had let go.
When I wobbled, suddenly
afraid, he yelled keep going—
Beneath the trees in the driveway
the distance increasing between us
I eventually rode until he was out of sight.
I counted on him.
That he could hold me was a given
that he could release me was a gift.