Esmé,My Dearest Not-So-Little
You’re on your first bike. No training wheels, of course. You’ve got your Papa to keep you upright.
At 22 months, you barely reach the downstroke pedal with your tippy toes. And you hit the back pedal brake as much as you pedal forward.
I think you’re a bit young to be riding, but I know better than to interfere. You’ve proven that with your Papa, you’re capable of anything, from sitting on a moving skateboard at 3 months to solo boarding down a long, long ramp to entertain your 1st-birthday crowd.
I think back to my first bike, a used but functional blue specimen I got when I was around 8. Getting my balance was tough. Smooth sailing once I got that downpat, right?
But I quickly realized I also needed to steer around obstacles when I made slow contact with a giant pine tree in our front yard.
I figured out how to go straight, and off I pedaled down the sidewalk, hair flying in the wind! Magic! Until I got to the end of the block and realized I didn’t know how to brake. I still remember the panic in the driver’s face as a car screeched to a halt just in time.
When I felt comfortable with all the necessary skills, I developed my favorite route. I’d break through the snowflower border bushes, spraying minute white petals everywhere, into the churchyard next door, then down the churchyard slope at top speeds, onto the sidewalk and back into our yard. The lawn soon began to show evidence of my great skill.
Until the front tire of the bike met a misplaced root on that downward slope and came to an abrupt stop. I crashed into the handlebars and landed on the ground. I couldn’t breathe. I thought for sure I was dying.
I didn’t die, and I got back on that bike again.
Esmé, I watch you ride round and round the house, dolly ensconced between the handlebars, and smile at your sweet giggles. And I think that your Papa won’t always be around to keep you upright.
You will experience obstacles that you need to steer around in order to reach your dreams.
You will barely miss oncoming vehicles and be grateful to be alive.
You will fall and even think you are dying, wondering whether you can go on.
Baby girl, not-so-baby-anymore girl, your Papa may not be there, but you do have a Father who always will be.
Let Him ride tandem. He’ll do all the work when the hills get high. He’ll guide you through the obstacle course called life. He’ll create an invisible barrier between you and oncoming danger. And when you do fall, He’ll cry with you and then gently pick you back up.
Ride with God, my not-so-little girl.
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