Monday, September 3, 2007
Last week, Jonah got his first bike.
A surprise from his cousin (who had outgrown it), the bike was bright blue, covered with streamers and balloons, and even had a handmade name tog attached to the front handlebars. A bright yellow bike helmet completed the ensemble.
We had traveled to Fall Creek Falls, a state park several hours' drive from here, where we met my mother and two of my brothers and their families for a picnic lunch, followed by a swim in the river, then a family bike ride around the lake. The entire day was enjoyable, but my favorite part was watching Jonah as he took his first bike ride ever.
He set off down the bike trail, the smallest in the group, and I rode right behind him to make sure he was OK. Soon the others had left us behind. Jonah pedaled energetically, his bike wobbling back and forth, stabilized on either side by the training wheels which caught him if he leaned too far in either direction. Occasionally he would flash a smile at me over his shoulder. He was so proud of himself!
Often, he lost control of the bike, usually by going off the side of the bike trail where he tipped over in the uneven ground. Each time, he jumped up again, picked his bike up, and got back on the trail. "I'm not hurt," he kept saying.
Once, Jonah wiped out next to a several-foot dropoff with a steep descent to the lake. As his bike slid over the edge, he jumped off it and stayed on the trail, avoiding an accident which definitely could have hurt him. That time, I jumped off my bike to help him, but he was OK, just a little scared.
Our pace was so slow that I had a lot of time to think, and I found myself thinking about something I had read about the topic of falling. Apparently when toddlers fall, it's best not to grab them every time to keep them from getting hurt. Falling is part of the whole process of learning to walk; if we never fell, we would not learn about gravity and balance, or the body mechanics needed to prevent a fall.
It made me wonder if God goes behind me, like I was going behind Jonah on that bike ride, watching my progress but not intervening unless I am in serious danger. Perhaps when I could not feel him there, he was watching, proud of the progress I had made, but knowing I would not learn unless I did it alone and even fell occasionally in the attempt.
I have to give Jonah credit. Instead of crying and reaching for me every time he fell, he was so brave. "I'm not hurt, Mom!" He said quickly as he got back up to try again.
And even in that short ride of a mile or so, he did learn so much. By the end of the ride, he was
tearing around with his cousins like a little daredevil.
Next time I feel alone or have fallen, perhaps I should try the Jonah method - get up, assure God I'm not hurt, and keep going until I learn whatever it is he is trying to teach me to do!