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It’s been more than a dozen years. Sometimes it
seems like yesterday; sometimes it seems like a lifetime
ago. My little girl finally had her own bicycle. Not a
trike, but a real two-wheeler. The bike was the product
of a successful visit to a nearby garage sale. It was
the perfect pink, little-girl bicycle. My daughter loved
it at once. I struck a bargain, stored our new treasure
in the trunk and drove home. I couldn’t unload the new
prize fast enough. My little girl wanted her bike on the
road now! It was a warm, sunny day, ideal for learning
to ride a bicycle.
Parenthood is a long series of
events, each of which falls on one side or the other of
a basic parental dichotomy: We want our children to grow
up to be independent, yet we want our children to depend
on us. We seem reluctant to accept that the love our
children have for us is based on what they feel, not
what we do for them.
I can see my little girl
sitting atop her new bike. She is so small, yet so
eager. Her husky voice begs me, “Don’t let go, Dad!” Her
teeth are clenched. The dimpled pink hands display white
knuckles. I keep one hand on the seat and the other on a
handlebar. I jog slowly alongside the bike and rider.
Occasionally, I remove one hand, but I hear, “Don’t let
Even allowing for the inaccuracies of
my memory, she seems to have mastered this complex
activity as she would later learn other skills and
knowledge—quickly, but only after some frustration over
her lack of instant expertise. She executed her
characteristic, methodical attack on the challenge with
a strong, almost heartbreaking, desire for success.
Tentatively, I again removed my hand. “Don’t let go,
She bubbles with excited anticipation over
her lunchtime sandwich. We rush back outside to the
sidewalk test track. In spite of her anxiety about
falling, the wobbling front wheel is beginning to
stabilize. It won’t be long now. I can feel her growing
confidence. I have to jog a little faster. Her legs pump
with newfound strength and confidence.
in child rearing presents a more poignant picture of
growing independence? Learning to walk is a beginning of
independence. Learning to talk and express original
thought is also a step along that road. But these steps
are gradual, and allow for some adjustment time for the
parents. Learning to ride a bike is learning to fly—an
experience that almost instantly gives the recipient a
new, permanent and irrevocable freedom.
moment has come. I’ve known for several minutes that she
has acquired the magic “it” that makes this improbable
form of transport possible. My daughter finally realizes
it, too. Now, my hand no longer steadies her efforts; it
is holding her back. My body lumbering alongside is not
comforting—it is distracting.
She takes off like a shot! Little pigtails
flying in the air. She goes at least fifty feet before
coming to a gentle stop in the grass adjacent to the
sidewalk. She beams. She glows.
She has a grin
that could only have come from self- satisfaction. I
smile, too. Not just because I share her sense of
accomplishment, but because I realize that she has begun
a journey. She’s on it, still.
sorrows and joys. Some events, inexplicably, bring both
simultaneously. A holding on and a letting go. A little
push on a bike. A hug and a blessing at the door before
school. We are bound, as parents, to do both: hold and
release, each in its own time. I willingly release my
children to their futures. I encourage their
independence to discover their strengths and talents.
But let go? Never.
© 2000 from Chicken Soup
for the Father's
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Since my 16-year-old son recently received a
prepaid cell phone as a gift, I've asked him to use it
to call home if he's out past his curfew. One Saturday
night while waiting up for him, I dozed off in front of
the TV. Later I woke to realize that there was no sign
of him, and there had been no
Irate, I punched in
his number. When he answered, I demanded, "Where are
you, and why haven't you bothered to
"Dad," he sleepily
replied, "I'm upstairs in bed. I've been home for an
FRENCH TOAST (Dad's day breakfast)
2 servings, one sandwich each
4 Tbsp. PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese Spread
4 slices cinnamon raisin bread
8 slices OSCAR MAYER Shaved Honey Ham
2 Tbsp. maple-flavored or pancake syrup
SPREAD cream cheese
spread onto 2 of the bread slices. Top with ham; cover
with remaining 2 bread slices. Lightly press edges of
each sandwich together to seal.
BEAT eggs, milk and sugar
with fork in pie plate or square baking dish until well
blended. Dip sandwiches in egg mixture, turning over to
evenly moisten both sides.
SPRAY large nonstick
skillet with cooking spray; heat on medium heat (adult
assisted). Add sandwiches; cook 2 min. on each side or
until golden brown on both sides. Serve with syrup.
Add a fresh fruit salad to this dish for a
delicious breakfast to start your day.
This recipe can also be made with PHILADELPHIA
Neufchatel Cheese, 1/3 Less Fat than Cream Cheese,
softened, in place of the cream cheese spread.
Jazz It Up
If you love cinnamon, double the
cinnamon hit by sprinkling the cream cheese with extra
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