Poetry Friday is hosted by Sylvia Vardel @ Poetry for Children
It’s Spring time (well, it’s cold and grey, so it feels as though it’s almost Spring time), and all the little ones in my neighborhood are learning to ride their shiny new bikes. I love this time of year. The teacher in me loves to hear the way parents and siblings coach the newbies along with gentle reassurances, clear directions, and enthusiastic celebration of even the smallest signs of progress. And the parent in me is always taken back in time to those Spring afternoons when I helped my own three kids, one by one, to “learn the bicycle”.
At the time, of course, it was just a matter of helping them learn how to master one more skill, just as they had needed me to help them learn to walk, or use the potty, or the other million or so skills that dot the journey from birth through toddlerhood…from adolescence to adulthood.
But, there is something about learning the bicycle that, looking back, seemed to mark the beginning of letting go. I still remember the moments when each of my three, having mastered balance and hand brakes, suddenly realized that they were finally off and away. I’ll never forget the exuberance with which they began to pedal faster and faster, down the sidewalk, and out of sight. Their journey away from me had just begun.
The older children pedal past
Stable as little gyros, spinning hard
To supper, bath, and bed, until at last
We also quit, silent and tired
Beside the darkening yard where trees
Now shadow up instead of down.
Their predictable lengths can only tease
Her as, head lowered, she walks her bike alone
Somewhere between her wanting to ride
And her certainty she will always fall.
Tomorrow, though I will run behind,
Arms out to catch her, she’ll tilt then balance wide
Of my reach, till distance makes her small,
Smaller, beyond the place I stop and know
That to teach her I had to follow
And when she learned I had to let her go.