Identify Your “Training Wheels” And Smile!

We’ve all met at least one person who treads a little lighter than the rest of us, who grabs life with both hands, experiences it to the fullest. It’s not that they are irresponsible adults. It’s just that their approach to life in general is different from most grown ups. They don’t allow themselves to get caught up in the details. They don’t over think. They just breathe in life’s moments, filling their lungs with each experience, and letting every inch of their body feel the joy life offers. Is it a personality trait inherited from some gene passed down to them from a life loving parent? Or, is it something they learned along the way?

As a kid, I remember being fearless. Yet, now I over think riding a Roller Coaster as I imagine endless frightening scenarios all of which leave my two children motherless in the end. As I climb aboard, buckle my seat belt, then check and double-check it, I’m silently berating myself for being so careless as to agree to this irresponsible joy ride. I am a mother for goodness sake, not some free wheeling teenager doing pop-a-wheelies on her mountain bike (ah those were the days). Nevertheless, I settle in and after a quick plea bargain prayerful talk with the man upstairs, I make a conscious decision to enjoy the ride. It isn’t long before the cars pick up speed, I feel the wind in my hair, and the sheer exhilaration of feeling free! In that moment, nothing can stop me and I feel like I can take on the world!

My kids: cooling off and smiling from the inside out after a long bike ride. photo credit: littlemisswordy

My kids: cooling off and smiling from the inside out, after a long bike ride.
photo credit: littlemisswordy

Do you remember the first time you learned to ride a bike? It’s that same feeling I’m referring to here. No matter how we approached that bike for the first time, the end result was the same. Once we got going and felt the wind in our hair, we could take on the world. There was no hiding our smile as it traveled from our mind to our face, until it took over every fiber of our being and shone like a Fourth of July sparkler beckoning the world to smile with us! Why do we reserve that full body joy as something to be experienced only by a carefree child?

When I taught my oldest how to ride a bike, her little brother was her biggest cheerleader as she fearfully gave up her training wheels. Olivia approached this challenge in her usual fashion. With much detail, she proceeded to delineate each and every way she could fall off her bike, and each and every injury that was possible. I gave her some space, addressed her concerns accordingly, and eventually she faced the latest challenge in the life of a six-year-old — with determination and a few meltdowns. On the other hand, Evan watched Olivia the first day as he circled her on his Spiderman bike WITH training wheels, and like a good brother and little knight, cheered her on at the appropriate moments. However, on day two he adamantly demanded I take his training wheels off.

Evan’s approach to learning to ride a bike was much different from his sister’s approach. Fearless and with complete faith in his abilities, he not only wanted to go fast but didn’t want me to hold him back. Not a single thought to consequences, injuries, etc. he quickly progressed to riding without assistance in a mere thirty minutes. Their approaches were different, but their end result was the same. They both experienced the same sense of freedom, wind blowing in their face, head tilted back, smiling with their entire body.

This left me thinking about how we approach life. What are our “training wheels” and how much do we depend on them? Training wheels aren’t a negative thing, but definitely aren’t meant to permanently carry our weight. Do the training wheels in our life show up in the form of our friends, our family, our career, our doubts, or the dreams we’ve put on hold? Why do some of us hang on to our training wheels longer than others? Is it because they’ve become so much a part of us that we don’t even realize we’re leaning on them? Are we too afraid to remove them even for a moment for fear of failure? Are we allowing our training wheels to hold us back from that sense of freedom?

Wouldn’t it be great to experience that smile from the inside out…the kind that makes you literally jump for joy just like when you were a kid? Whether it’s a roller coaster, a bike, or life, inevitably the moment arrives when we have to ride all on our own, feel the exhilaration as we pick up speed and confidence, tilt our heads up to the sky, and welcome that cool breeze on our face.

 Weekly Writing Challenge: Truth is Stranger than Fiction

33 thoughts on “Identify Your “Training Wheels” And Smile!

  1. I think you nailed it right here: “Training wheels aren’t a negative thing, but definitely aren’t meant to permanently carry our weight.”

    Taking off the training wheels too soon is an obvious mistake. But the longer we leave them on, the more accustomed we get to the security they provide, and we can get to the point where we don’t even consider the leap anymore. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how we can stifle our own enthusiasm?

    Excellent post, and a great reminder. Thank you.

    • It really is amazing how we “stifle our own enthusiasm” as you say here. Another blogger commented on the fact that sometimes in our adult years we actually attach the training wheels instead of removing them. It’s so true. As children we can’t wait to get them off our bike and view them as obstacles, yet as adults we let them hold us back on so many levels. Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Is it simply that we lose that childhood carefree gung-ho attitude to life because as we grow older we became aware of and understand the risks attached to any endeavor and/or acquire responsibility for the welfare of others?

    As an adult, a bunch of friends and myself used to get together to try, at least once, as many different sporting activities as we could think of. It was great fun but the one I drew the line at was a parachute jump from a plane. Only two of us declined to participate in the jump and, when we talked later, for the same reason. We were the only two guys in our group with kids. While the risk of anything going wrong was low, neither of us was prepared to take the chance that we might leave our wife a widow and our kids fatherless for the sake of being able to notch up another sport on our list of achievements

    P.S. I well remember my first bike rides. My dad used to cycle to work. There were no cell-phones in the 1950s but we knew what time he finished work and roughly how long it took him to cycle home (around 45 mins) so my mum used to let me go and wait for him at the end of our street. [I wasn’t yet old enough to attend school but parents weren’t so paranoid about letting their kids play out on their own in those days]. The last part of his road home was all uphill and I would see him, from a distance, standing on the pedals to conquer the hill. When he reached me, he would pick me up and cycle the rest of the way home with me sat on the handlebars of the bike. When I was old enough to have a bike (there were no training wheels on it), he taught me to ride it by running alongside side me while I pedalled – one hand on the back of the saddle, the other on the handlebar – to keep me steady, and upright. When he judged I was ready, he would let go the bike to let me go solo – then grab it again as I began to topple sideways. He did this a handful of times but before we had reached the end of our street I was cycling unassisted. It was a great moment!

    Thank you for this post. It has brought back memories I had long forgotten !

    • I do believe the reason we take less risks as adults is because we “become aware of and understand the risks attached to any endeavor and/or acquire responsibility for the welfare of others.” It definitely is the case for me. Even my driving has changed since I had kids…I don’t have such a heavy foot anymore. 😉
      I love this story of you and your dad riding a bike. I could envision the smile on that little boy’s face first when you would see your dad from a distance, then as you placed you on the those handlebars, and finally as he picked up speed. What a great memory! Thank you for sharing it with me! I appreciate you taking the time to read my thoughts and comment.

  3. Excellent! Now I’m sitting here trying to figure out what my training wheels are! I want to feel the wind in my hair…as long as I don’t get bugs in my teeth. 😉

    • Thank and I’m sorry? ha ha! Let me know what you come up with for training wheels. 😉 And the bugs in the teeth could really put a damper on my whole wind in the hair vision. Agreed.

  4. Love this post! I think that as we grow we often put the “training wheels” on, often without realizing it. Getting comfortable in a job or feeling safe with where we are at, not reaching for where we are capable of going. I am also envious of the weather there, obviously you have no snow! I can only dream of that right now, looking forward to the day when things warm up for good. Great to find your blog and read your great thoughts. Training wheels! Great metaphor for playing it safe in life. I am currently taking mine off for good. 🙂 Look forward to reading more.

    • Thank you. I definitely agree that we often put those training wheels back on as grown ups. Yes, the weather here is quite nice and we are definitely enjoying it. However, I was born and raised in NJ so I still miss the seasons sometimes. I’m following your blog as well. Keep ’em coming!

  5. So right and so well put as always. I wish I was more ‘free’ and took more chances. I won’t even go on the roller coasters but then I have always been a big wuss when it came to them. 🙂

    • Thank you. I wish I was more “free” too in many ways. I keep taking baby steps in the right direction….slow progress, but still progress I guess. One thing I have always been a wuss about is Ferris Wheels. Go figure!

  6. You are so right! Unfortunately, as we get older our training wheels only stay on longer and some are even glued on! We forget what it was like not to have a care in the world and to have fun, and consistently remind ourselves and our kids of the dangers that could befall us if we really let go! Love the action shot of your kids and their smiles! Pure Joy! 🙂

    • Some are definitely glued on there…with super glue! lol Funny, how we rode our bikes with no helmets, etc., fell, got scraped, got back up. It was all part of living! Now we slap all this protective gear on them. Crazy. ha ha! That photo was a lucky shot. I couldn’t have gotten them to pretend to be that happy if I tried!

  7. Beautiful take on life itself. I live to read things like this and hopefully observe things worthy of a post like this. So many thoughts and questions. Thank you! Great post. :]

  8. Great use of a word picture! 🙂 I’d definitely have to say that my training wheels are doubts that creep into my head. These ‘training wheels’ end up giving me a false sense of security. When in actuality, they need to come off so I can enjoy riding in total freedom. Just like your son adamantly insisted his training wheels be removed!

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