Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Stretching Wings Wide

We warned him this would happen, both me and his Grand-mama. But what did we know, we crazy Chicken Little women who warn of dangers like lightening traveling from sky to green earth, the train-like sound of tornadoes, chicken-thieving coyotes lurking in dark woods...all things that he has never witnessed with his own senses.

To a four year old, seeing is believing. Anything else is met with, "Oh mommy. You worry too much." But last Thursday, truth became sight on our front porch, and the tears began to fall in revelation that mommy had been right all along.

The problem is Wyatt is a lot like his mother. I've always been apprehensive of trying new things for fear I would fail, because it's easier to do what I know than what I don't. Wyatt is the same way.

Since his third birthday when Oma and Opa got him a "real" bicycle (with training wheels, of course), everyone has encouraged Wyatt to learn to ride it, warning that if he didn't, Emerson would. Earlier this year, with much, much, much prompting and practice, Wyatt did finally learn, but still, he has virtually refused to ride it, instead choosing to steal away one of the twins' tricycles since they are easier to ride with pedals that go forwards or backwards.

Like any other day of outside play, I was tired of telling eldest son to "give back" to younger son what was his. So, I told Emerson to try and ride Wyatt's bicycle, not believing that he could but that he would simply try, giving me a few more minutes to enjoy squabble-free playtime.

Just as I expected, Emerson concluded my idea was worth delaying a tantrum. Although two years younger than Wyatt, Emerson is only a year behind him in terms of growth, on track to be a towering tree like his father and Opa. What he lacks in age and maturity, he makes up for in tenacity and sheer strength.With that strong body and patient disposition, he slowly raised his leg over the back wheel, reached forward to grab the handle bars, and pulled himself up onto the black seat. Then, with both feet on the pedals, he pushed, but as I had expected, the pedals moved backwards and locked.

Instead of giving up or getting frustrated like Wyatt did when he was younger, Emerson got off, pushed the bike forward a few feet, and remounted--once, twice, each time rocking the bike and pushing with his feet as he obviously remembered Wyatt doing when he learned how to ride several months ago.

And then, it happened--the pedals rotated clockwise, bare feet pumping slowly, methodically with effort as he made his way down the porch.Instantly, his face cracked with a grin. I cheered, whooped, and clapped at his triumph, encouraging him to keep going. Only then did Wyatt realize what was happening. Still sitting on the red tricycle, he leapt to his feet, yelling that he wanted to ride "his" bicycle, and then crying when I refused to make Emerson get off.

Back and forth that little boy rode across the porch, dismounting at each end to turn the bicycle around. All the while, Wyatt howled and moaned until he had to go inside for some alone-time reflection on the naughty bench.

When I finally made Emerson stop for the afternoon, his whole head was wet with sweat, his brow firm from concentrating so hard. Last week, he did a 25 piece puzzle all by himself. Two weeks ago, he mastered the concept of "filling in" an image he is coloring versus "scribbling." And now he could ride a bicycle. Wings spread in independence, he was radiant.

Earlier in the week after getting in trouble for some mischief, Wyatt told me, "I just have so many ideas in my brain," his wingspread sparked by expanding mind.

It's been a month for growth, especially with my two boys. Sometimes, I believe I have pteranodons instead of human children, their increasing wingspan stretching wide enough to carry them across imaginary oceans, aloft on the highest of currents.

These growth spurts and testing of limits in their quest for independence--they are exciting, wonderful, and frustrating all at the same time. In the same breath, I give thanks and grumble.

When the lights go down for the evening and I sneak back in to pull tossed-off covers over little chests rising and falling in sleep, to inhale sweet scent of freshly bathed those stolen moments of quiet stillness, I find the strength to say "fly!" and whisper a prayer that God will always show them the way back home.

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