As the working parent, there are often milestones and poignant moments that I miss out on in my kids’ lives. James, with the very quantity of time he spends with the boys guarantees a certain statistical advantage for being the one to witness these developments. But today, as I rode home with Primo from Fred Myron I noticed how little the wheels of his training wheels actually touched the ground and I decided to take this “first” for my own. We peddled into the driveway and I fished out the slightly smaller pedal bike without training wheels and talked Primo through our plan. He had ridden a balance bike for months and then for Christmas got a pedal bike with training wheels from Grammie and Tom-tom so he had both the balance and the peddling mastered. Just not both at once. I started out with both hands over his on his handle bars and then jogged along with a firm grip on the collar of his vest when he got going. And he did get going. He peddled and balanced and wobbled a little and had to put his feet down a couple times and still hasn’t entirely mastered the first push off motion to get started. But he was riding down the street on a two wheel bike. And after the first couple times of collar gripped assistance, he did it entirely on his own. I jogged along behind him whooping and clapping like an idiot.
When we passed by the house after our first loop, I pounded on the front door for James to come see what we’d done. When he came out, he was equally proud and promptly strapped on his helmet and grabbed his bike to take Primo on a longer trip. I took the video camera from him, watched them ride away and then stood on the driveway feeling oddly resentful and forlorn. I wanted James to share this moment, this landmark development. But I didn’t want him to ride off into the sunset with my moment. He gets so many.
Later when they had come back and James and I were alone in the kitchen while Primo pulled his bike into the garage, I told him that I felt like he had swooped in and shanghai-ed my rare chance to be the companion to one of the boys’ firsts. That I wanted that whole memory for Primo to be of me jogging in my ugg boots behind him, out of breath and choked up watching the little legs of my kid motoring down the street. And then have it be me who strapped on my helmet and took him on the maiden ride around the block. As I said it out loud it felt dually selfish and extremely necessary that it be said. It hadn’t even occurred to James that I might be jealous of these landmarks. That he had stolen this from me. He felt bad. I felt bad. But he understood. And I think in the future, if I can be the one to teach one of the boys to tie their shoe or hold their hand on the first day of kindergarten or build a volcano or…. he’ll step back and let us have our moment. Because most of the time, I won’t be the one. I’ll take every chance I get.