When my third-born Jeffrey walked into his kindergarten class on his first day of school, I was a bit weepy. I restrained the tears that were filling my heart until I had dropped him off and collected the small gift bag from his sweet new teacher, Mrs. Tiffany. The bag contained a little poem, a pack of Kleenex and a tea bag for us moms to use when we got back to our homes while our little students stayed at the school.
Once back at home, the tears spilled out and ran down my cheeks. I sat in a recliner in my bedroom, surprised by all of the emotion. I guess that I had wrongly assumed that it would not be as hard to take the third child to kindergarten. After all, I had done this twice before. But it was hard…another daytime companion would be spending part of the day away from his mom.
My bout of sadness was interrupted by child number four. He came into my room, walked over to the chair where I was sitting and announced that he wanted to learn to ride his bike…without the training wheels…right then.
So the weeping mom turned mechanic as I took the training wheels off the repainted, hand-me-down purple bike. My three-year-old Timmy’s little legs could not touch the ground when he sat on the bike. I wondered how he would ever be able to master the riding-without-training-wheels skill when the bike was so much bigger than he was.
We rolled the now-two-wheeler out to the edge of our cul-de-sac driveway and pointed the bike toward our garage. I held the bike while he balanced on the seat. If I let go, the bike would fall over and Timmy could not stop it. So I began walking and pushing the bike and he began pedaling. I let go of the bike and off he went. I wondered how the ride would end, he could not just stop the bike and put his feet down, his feet didn’t reach the ground. But my determined little boy did not stop the bike at the other end of the driveway, he simply bailed off the bike when it reached the end of the drive and let the bike roll into the grass. Problem solved.
For the rest of the morning, I was busied by my three-year-old-turned-bike-rider. Over and over again, I would balance him upon the seat at one end of the drive and he would pedal as fast as he could to the other end of the driveway and then jump off the bike. He mastered riding the bike and dismounting by the end of the morning. He mastered the bike; it did not master him.
I have watched my Timothy use this same determination to master other skills and challenges over the last many years. He sets his goals and then works…he works hard. He works hard at work and he works hard at play. His determination and effort have served him well. And with each accomplishment he has remained humble. It has been a joy to watch him grow into the man version of the determined boy he has been all of his life.
This morning at a school assembly, I watched with admiration as Timothy received his congressional appointment to the Air Force Academy and was named valedictorian and a distinguished graduate of his senior class. I thought about my little boy who was determined to ride that bike…and I was a bit weepy…and very proud.