One Wobbly Wheel
Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,
A few nights ago a neighbor pulled into our driveway to drop off one of your friends, Izzy. As usual our yard and driveway were full of toys, wagons, riding toys and bikes of various sizes. Judging by the number of “things” that fill our yard each day one might make the assumption that we’re a family of a dozen or more – the kind reality shows are based on. I imagine there are a number of looks of pity as cars pass by. More civilized people resolved to 2 kids, manicured yards their kids don’t play in, and complete Spock-like order. Those Nikazy’s must be just a little back woods. But of course, they would be wrong. It’s just you three kids – and you love dragging your stuff into the yard everday. Mom and I are okay with that. I wait until everyone’s in bed to clean up the mess each night.
Back to the neighbor pulling into the driveway; as he pulled in he accidentally clipped the wheel of your red Radio Flyer tricycle, Max. The one that matches Kate’s pink one. He was apologetic, having bent the back right wheel, and offered to buy a new one. It is your favorite bike, Max.
Mommy assured him that it wasn’t a big deal. You’re riding your big boy bike with training wheels more often now. She was right; it’s not a big deal. It’s time to move on to the big bike. But you still love riding that Radio Flyer tricycle sometimes.
A couple of nights after the incident you kids were riding bikes again in the driveway. As the evening wore on you shifted from your big bike back to your pink tricycle, Kate. Max, you immediately followed suit and grabbed your little red tricycle – the one with the bent wheel. You rode it across the driveway and then pedaled it back to where I was sitting on the front porch steps.
“Daddy, fix my wheel, Dad. It’s very wobbly,” you said.
I looked closely at the bent wheel, knowing two things: 1. I’m not very handy. 2. That metal could’t be bent back even if I were. I went inside to get my tools anyway. I sat on the bottom step of the porch, holding your tricycle between my knees and feet. I flexed, grimaced and twisted a set of pliers and a wrench.
“Fix it, Dad. Fix it. It’s very wobbly,” you repeated.
I tried again, but just for show this time.
“I can’t fix it buddy,” I said. “See here, the metal is bent. I can’t fix it.”
You seemed puzzled by the revelation that I couldn’t fix something. I’ve always fixed things. Broken toys, bloody noses, scraped knees. But not this.
“I’m sorry buddy,” I said as I patted your blond head.
To my surprise there were no tears. Instead you puffed your chest, lifted your tricycle – the one that weighs 3x more than my carbon fiber race bike – and turned it around. As you pedaled away, over your shoulder, you said “It’s okay Dad. It’s just a little wobbly.”
In that moment I wondered how many times we would have that conversation as you grow up, mature, and still seek my help. I won’t always be able to fix it, but you can always count on me to flex, grimace, and try. And it will always be okay.
* this letter originally appeared on Dadcentric.com
Saturday: Biked 1:30 at tempo effort
Sunday: Ran 7 miles alternating miles between tempo/easy