When I was 5 years old, my dad taught me how to ride a 2-wheeler. He made me cry.
He took the training wheels off my bike and said, “If you feel like you’re going to fall, just turn the wheel that way.” Then he went back into the garage to tend to one of the 8,000 or so projects he was always working on.
I followed his advice. And I fell. And fell. And fell again. After the third fall, I picked the gravel out of my bloody knee, marched into the garage and announced, “I can’t do it.”
“You can’t?” Dad asked.
“Nope,” I said, expecting him to re-attach the training wheels.
Imagine my horror when he said, “Well, then you have no need of this,” and he picked up my bike and set it out at the curb with the trash.
That’s when I started to cry. I cried all the way down the driveway, retrieved my bike, and cried all the while as I pushed it back up the driveway. I was embarrassed because everyone driving by saw me crying.
When I got back to the garage, I knew I had to make a choice: try again, or risk finding my bike back out at the curb. I just stood there, staring at my dad, who was not my favorite person at that moment. Dad just kept on doing what he was doing. So, I got back on my bike, crossed my arms and continued to stare at him until he finally put down the wrench.
Dad sighed. “Alright,” he said, “let me see what you’re doing.”
I gave it another go.
“You’re turning the wheel too far,” dad said, and he went back in the garage. He was right. Minutes later, I was zipping up and down the driveway not even thinking about the dried blood on my knee or my dirt-smudged, tearstained, smiling face.
That day, I learned a lot more than just the techniques for riding a 2-wheeler.
I learned that giving up is way too easy, falling down doesn’t mean it can’t be done, there’s a learning curve involved in everything new, the opinions of the people who saw me fall and the people who saw me cry didn’t matter because eventually I succeeded and the people who love me were proud, and sometimes all it takes is a little more information and a little more practice.
Over the years, I also learned that being skilled at riding a bike doesn’t guarantee you won’t fall again. When I was 10 years old, I wiped out pretty good, skidded across the dirt road and ripped a bunch of skin off one thigh. I was prohibited from swimming (my favorite thing to do) until I recovered. Dad repaired the damage to my bike, and mom applied ointment and bandages to my injury. I didn’t stop riding. And the next summer, when I ran down the hill and hit the water at Goldenrod Beach, it was sweet.
When I was 15 years old, my dad taught me how to drive a car. He made me cry.
Lania Rocha is a staff writer for the View Newspapers. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.