Inhaling the familiar scent of saw dust and Old Spice, I nestle into Daddy’s neck. He wraps his strong arms tightly around me and lifts me up to him. The tears stop before the blood.
“Daddy,” I sob, “I’m never gonna learn to ride my bike!”
“Yes you will, honey, just keep trying,” he reassures me gently.
The image of riding into the wind ahead of my younger brother with my hair flying into my face prods me onward. Day after day I climb onto the shiny pink seat and start down the graveled driveway, only to fall onto the sharp rocks. Today is no different. I am frustrated and angry. I want to make Daddy proud. I want him to shout, “Way to go!” the same way he does when my brother pedals effortlessly by, showing off on his Evil Knievel bike.
Sometimes Daddy runs along side me, holding the back of my bike until sweat pours down his face; all the while he’s encouraging me onward. At these times, with Daddy next to me, I am confident, gripping the handlebars tightly and looking straight ahead, pedaling with all my might. And then, he lets go. I continue straight for a little while and then my weight shifts and down I fall.
Today is worse then some of the other days. I have scraped my knee and hit my head hard. Daddy puts a Scooby Doo band-aid on my wound and gives me a cool washcloth for my head. I sit next to him on the sofa until the throbbing goes away and then Daddy takes me in his lap, hugs me tightly and kisses my cheek.
“Let’s try it one more time, Angel,” he suggests.
“Okay, Daddy, but this is it! This is the last time I’m ever ever ever going to get on that dumb bike again!”
“Okay, honey,” Daddy says with a smile, “but I got a good feeling about this time!”
“Daaadddyyyeeee, you say that every time, I moan!”
Nevertheless, I take Daddy’s hand and we start to the driveway. Daddy’s calloused fingers are intertwined with mine.
“Now,” he says, “this time, I am going to run ahead of you so you can see how to go. Just keep your eyes on me, nothing else. Got it?”
“Yeah, I got it!”
Daddy starts running backwards down the driveway and I laugh and climb back onto the bike. I set my face towards the wind and start pedaling. I look hard into my daddy’s eyes and start forward.
“Keep your eyes on me,” he coaches. “That’s right, you can do it!”
All of a sudden I am doing it! I am riding! I am riding my bike. I glance to the left at my little brother showing off. Oh, no! I start to veer towards the distraction.
“No!” Daddy yells sternly. “Eyes on me! Keep your eyes on Daddy!”
Quickly, I look back at my Daddy. Thankfully, my bike wheels follow my gaze and I do not fall. My hair is flying into my face. My daddy is running in front of me, smiling.
“Way to go, way to go!” he’s shouting.
What a rush!
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