A Milestone Passed


Fatherhood and Parenting
Author Martin Wolterding
Martin Wolterding and his wife Rosemary live in the Blue Mountains with
their two sons David and Joshua. Rosemary, a Strategic Planner, works full
time for Blue Mountains Council. Martin is an at-home Dad, caring for his
sons, David and Joshua.

Over the years, my son David has steadily progressed up the transport ladder. Starting with a toy plastic three wheeler on which he crabbed along the driveway, he progressed on to his first tricycle. It was then that the ugly truth confronted him. If he wanted to get up the small hill in front of the house he had to work, really work at pushing those pedals.

When he was four, David then inherited his first bicycle. It was cheap, poorly made and very difficult to move. He puffed and pushed and as he grew stronger, actually began to move along. Meanwhile, I stared fixedly at the training wheels wondering whether it was time to start “adjusting” them. After six months, I surreptitiously began raising the wheels. As he wobbled from side to side, there were brief moments when he wasn't using them at all. Four months later, one of the plastic pieces broke and that was the end of his bicycle.

Last week, David's neighbour and best friend went off on vacation with his family, leaving behind a bicycle without training wheels. Over the next two days I watch David teach himself to ride.

The next weekend, David, his mother Rosemary and I went down to the bicycle shop. I was looking for a balanced, well built, sturdy bike that would be easy to ride and stand up to the inevitable abuse. Before we left, I announced that we might get a bicycle if we saw one we liked, but otherwise we wouldn't. As we looked at the rows of shiny bicycles, my son’s face was a perfect mirror of his heart. He desperately hoped we would buy one while trying to prepare himself for possible disappointment. While the bright colours and shiny chrome of the shiny new bikes attracted David, to his credit, he was content when we chose one that was second hand. At his request however, we put on it a shiny new bell.

It rained all day the next day, a terrible ordeal for a boy with a new, untried bicycle. With the following day warm and sunny, we went out together. While I gently held the nape of his shirt, more for his sense of security than anything else, David had his first ride. And ride it he did, even managing to turn around without stopping.

So for the next three days I huffed and puffed at his side, feelings a stew of emotions, at his obvious sense of achievement, sharing his new found sense of speed and freedom. Yet there was also a touch of sadness as he rode on ahead of me, out of my arms into the large, large world.

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