I have a nine year old son. Well, actually, his mother and I share him with a dad who is never in the picture, so I guess that makes him my son. At 40, he became my first child. (I know, late bloomer)
When I got into the picture, he was just two and a half, using a pacifier and traveling in a stroller wherever we went. Those were the easy days, when we were the teachers and we taught him important things like how to use the bathroom on his own (When we noticed that he would simply stand in front of the toilet and let it go, over the wall and shower curtain, I had to give him some pointers on how to control where the pee went. He was grossed out when I told him that he actually had to hold the thing on, and aim it towards the toilet), how to flush the toilet, how to brush his teeth, and how to wash his hands. Important stuff that he would use for the rest of his life.
I was also there to teach him how to ride his bike. He hated training wheels, and would not ride the bike with them on it. He said that they were for babies, and he certainly was not a baby. (Growing up too fast, he is!) I remember encouraging him to sit on his little Spider Man bike, go to the hill in the front yard and let gravity take its course. He had no part of this, instead, he got me to hold the seat and he paddle the bike like a bat out of hell.
This worked great until I realized that his little legs could paddle faster than my old legs could run. We both ended up falling, him on top of me. A few more times and eventually, I let go of the seat and away he went, until I was dumb enough to tell him that he was on his own. With this, he would crash at the bottom of the hill, and say the same thing all the time: “Okay Dad, but this time, don’t let go of the seat”. My response was always the same. “I will hold the seat until you can do it on your own”.
Eventually I did let go, and he did make it to the bottom of the hill, and then to the bottom of the driveway, and then to the end of the street, and so on. He was so proud to learn how to ride the bike.
I was there for many other first occasions as well. I helped pull his first tooth, taught him to use the lawn mower, how to use the electric drill and other power tools, etc.
I worked with him to learn to read (I can’t figure out what the teachers are doing in school, because for some reason, they don’t feel that spelling and phonics is an important skill, I was hooked on phonics as a child), and when I get a chance, I teach him computer skills. I love doing those things with him.
He just began grade four, and now he says that he doesn’t need any more help. Apparently, he already knows it all. In soccer practice, he wonders why he has coaches, because again, he figures that he knows it all. I must have done some job in the last seven years, because at only nine years of age, he knows everything.
But I am not ready to let go of the seat yet. He still needs to learn to drive a car, I need to have the ‘Talk’ with him about sex and girls and life (I remember my dad having the talk with me. “You know everything you need to know about girls” my dad asked. “They told us that in school, dad” I replied. “Thank Heavens” he said.) and the most important thing, he needs to learn to be a dad. I want to be there for that.
Until that day, I am still holding on to the seat.