When my son turned 3, we bought him his first 2 wheeled bicycle with training wheels – a “big boy bike” as he liked to call it. He rode up and down the cul-de-sac, irritated by the training wheels which seemed to slow him down a bit. My husband removed them – and in that way that is made famous by all parents teaching a child to ride a bike, he held the back of the bike and ran alongside, faster and faster until he let go and my son took off.
For a moment we were giddy, my father-in-law and I, watching from the front of my home as my used-to-be-a-toddler sped away from his dad. “Look at him go!” I said out loud, “That’s amazing – he’s only 3!” Then a more serious tone, “Oh my God, he’s only 3!” “Too young to be speeding around the neighborhood on a bicycle,” I thought. By the time my husband caught up to the little cyclist and turned him around, my joy had turned to angst as I considered how much harder it had just become to contain that little boy. Suddenly there was a host of new dangers to review and new boundaries to set.
My husband, sensing the sheer terror in my face, assured me that he would keep the bicycle out of reach and that such outings would be under the strictest supervision. My father-in-law laughed. (He’s probably still laughing). Perhaps he knew from parenting 2 boys of his own that containment was out of the question. Soon the bicycle was joined by roller blades, skateboards, razor scooters, motor scooters -- you name it. If it had wheels, he was riding it. Add to the list surfboards, boogie boards, kayaks, snowboard -- the bicycle was just the tip of the iceberg.
My son is always in motion, has always been in motion, for as long as I can remember. Perhaps that bicycle memory simply marks the moment I actually became aware of what that might mean for me one day. Perhaps I am living that "one day" today. As of Friday, my son is officially a licensed driver, no longer on a permit. He is a driver, driving a car (a pick up truck to be exact). He drove himself to school this morning and home this afternoon. As silly as this sounds, each time he drives somewhere it feels as if he's driving a little further away from me.
Where has the time gone? Once again there is a host of new dangers to review and new boundaries to set – but he is no longer a little boy who needs me to protect him from the real dangers of the world. He is at a point where he is more than ready to face those dangers without me. His need for me is waning, but mine for him remains the same. Perhaps this is the ageless plight of all parents. We’ve spent his lifetime holding on for dear life, only to come to a place where it takes every strength we have just to loosen the grip.
++Thank you Lord for the incredible gift you have given me in my son. I delight in him. Protect him as he ventures further away from this nest. Watch over him as he drives, wherever he drives. Make him a safe and conscientious driver. Protect him and his car from other drivers. Speak faith to me and remind me that you have good plans for him – I admit it is so very difficult to let him go. It is very difficult to entrust him even to You. Breath on him, breath of God. May he feel your presence wherever he goes. May he put his trust in You. May he be everything You have created him to be. Help me as I loosen my grip. Help me to be the wind beneath his wings.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:20
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6