As a little kid, I have one memory that truly stands out from the rest, and that is my first day without training wheels. When I was four years old, I looked around me and soon noticed that so many kids I knew had bikes. Naturally, when I saw them riding their bikes on sunny days in the park and around my neighborhood, I wanted one. Soon after, my parents surprised me with a metallic purple bicycle complete with training wheels and helmet. It was on that bike that I believe I learned some of the rules I live by today.
First, I learned patience. Every child first starts out with training wheels. Never before have I heard of anyone who was able to immediately ride down the sidewalk without that extra help. When I saw that my older brother and his friends always rode faster than I did, I had to be patient and know that one day I would be able to ride with just two wheels, sans extra.
Secondly, I learned perseverance; I would have a terrible time if I tried to count the number of times I wanted to give up. Every afternoon though, I would take my purple bike onto the uneven sidewalks of my cul-de-sac and ride, if only for a couple of minutes. This taught me later that I can’t just quit when something is too hard; instead, I have to keep on putting myself out there until I accomplish what I need to.
And lastly, riding that first lovely bike has taught me bravery and teamwork. I did not learn how to ride a bike on my own. My parents, brother, cousins, and countless others helped me on my journey and reflecting on those memories, I can say with truth that “it takes a village to raise a child.” That first day without training wheels, in the summer with a bright sun and cotton ball clouds in the sky (as I remember), was a gut-wrenching one. As my mother pushed me slowly on those to seemingly unstable wheels and let go, I feared for my life (or at least a skinned knee). I somehow figured out at that point that stopping without trying just because I was afraid would disappoint me. I went on without aide for several yards before I started to wobble ever so slightly, and my mom came to my rescue. Bike riding has taught me many lessons, but most of all it has taught me that I cannot accomplish anything unless I first put myself “out there.” Bike riding, although something learned in my early childhood, is something that has influenced not my pride in myself as a five year old (“Look, Mom! I can steer with one hand!”) but my belief in myself and those I love as a partially mature teenager.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.