He learned a bit later than the rest. Just never really wanted to give it a go.
Always the tentative one; like father like son.
But give it a go we did one sunny day in April of 2006.
A year of change.
I took him to the grassy hill by the park and we started at the top. It was still dewy and he complained when he fell and tinted his knees green. Started to cry. The gentle kind of crying at first where the tears well up but stay put until you blink. A few falls later he turned to the frustrated kind of crying that means this is no fun anymore. I took his head in my hands and assured him that he could do it. He just had to keep pedaling. Quit putting his feet on the ground when the world started leaning.
Up and down the hill he went until the perfect moment came. Dads recognize that moment. When it’s time to take it to the street where the pedaling and the steering work like they should. Where the awkward tumbles and aggravating monotony of it all pays off and things start clicking.
Then that look. Eyes so wide with wonder that closing them would ruin it all. And the grin a few precious seconds later. What Michael Card likened to a sunrise . . .
For I would wander weary miles,
Would welcome ridicule, my child,
To simply see the sunrise of your smile,
To see the light behind your eyes,
The happy thought that makes you fly,
Yes, I would wander weary miles,
To simply see the sunrise of your smile.
He never looked back.
Later that summer I stood on the dock and watched as he jumped into water way over his head. Swimmers test at summer camp. He didn’t even hesitate. Just jumped. He bobbed to the surface with his little arms flailing and then went back under. The instructor quickly extended the red and white pole at his side into the water and he bear hugged it, spitting water. And smiling. A victory for him. He’d jumped . . .
I’m sitting here listening to Michael’s song.
Crying . . .
. . . the kind of crying that comes with being a father. That comes easy when you remember all the smiles . . .