Last month, when the weather warmed up, I pulled Jalen’s bicycle out of hibernation in the garage. She was ecstatic – until she noticed that I’d removed her training wheels.
“Daddy, where are the little wheels?”
“They’re gone, babe. You’re 5 now. You don’t need them anymore.”
“No, Daddy; I do! I can’t ride without them. Will you please put them back?”
“Nope, it’s time. You can do it. Here – I’ll help you.”
Much whining commenced, but in the end, she relented and got up on her bike to try. I assumed the position that every parent has found themselves at some point. Left hand on the handle bars, right hand under the seat – trying to run sideways as fast as I could. And when I couldn’t keep up, I gave her a push. “You’re doing it! Keep going!”
It was a beautiful sight…for about 3 seconds…and then she crashed…hard. I coaxed her back up a few times, but it always ended as it had begun – Jalen on the ground, scraped up, crying and working on a new bruise. When she’d had enough, she stood up, defeated, left her bike where it landed and began walking home.
My Dad could build anything. He wasn’t just handy. He could create almost anything you could dream up, be it a piece of furniture, a home to put it in, or a skyscraper. It all seemed to be the same kind of easy for him. He’d say, “It’s just a box. It’s just a matter of how fancy you want your box to be.’’ Of course, anyone looking on could see the truth. He was a master.
Growing up with Superman wasn’t easy. It was actually kind of painful for a kid like me. For whatever natural ability he had, I had an equal and opposite clumsiness. My lack of skills made me hesitant to try and afraid to fail… until one day when I was in eighth grade.
I accidentally learned one of the most valuable lessons of my life one regular day when I was fifteen.
My dad had just gotten back from the bank, and was removing the cash he’d withdrawn from an envelope. As he counted out five one hundred dollar bills, I jokingly snatched one away and took off. He said, “Boy, you better get back over here with my money.” I returned, but held out the bill just beyond his reach. He looked at me and knowingly smirked as he reached out to take it.
Of course, I jerked my hand away. “Finders keepers,” I told him. “It’s mine now.”