“The same question burns in the heart of every boy…”
It had been a long day of learning, of running, stooping, and falling. It was hot, and the man was exhausted, but he was alive with the primordial sensations that come to surface in most every father when he helps his son navigate through one of life’s necessary and inevitable milestones. Today, he was teaching his boy to ride his bike without training wheels. Despite many spills and scraped knees, much progress had been made.
“I’m proud of you, boy.” the man said.
“You shouldn’t be.” said the boy.
“Because I kept falling down.”
“That’s ok. I’m proud you kept trying. And you shouldn’t feel bad for falling down. Everyone falls down sometimes.”
“Do you fall down, Daddy?” asked the boy.
The man chuckled quietly. “All the time.” he said.
Silence for a time while the boy put away his beloved bicycle, then, “Are you sure you’re proud of me?”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
That night, several hours later, the boy’s question burned no less intensely.
“Daddy?” the boy said as the man tucked him in to bed for the night.
“If I ride my bike tomorrow, and I fall down again, will you still be proud of me?”
The man held back a tear as he simultaneously warmed at the sheer vulnerability and strange sponteneity of the boy’s lingering question.
“Yes, son. I will still be proud of you.”
I dare not restrain myself from penning these words. To do so would be to deny my lungs oxygen.