Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | May 23, 2009

Bikes of Passage

Jonathan in Beijing

Jonathan in Beijing

   Today is my son Jonathan’s 25th birthday. As I was thinking about and praying for Jonathan, I remembered something I had recorded in my journal in May 1991 on the night I assembled his first bicycle. I offer it here as a reminder to parents that our kids grow up faster than we would like. So, make the most of every day and every year with your kids. You won’t do everything right, but neither will your kids. Learn together along the journey and love each other no matter what. I love you, Jonathan. You are indeed a gift from God. Happy Birthday, son.

• • • • •

   I spent half the night assembling my son’s first bicycle. The carton not only had a picture of what the finished product should look like, but pictures of the tools required to assemble the “some assembly required” product. I did not have all of the necessary tools but felt certain I could improvise with what few tools I have managed to collect over the years. And so the project began with a look at the assembly instruction manual. It looked like some long legal contract peppered with pictures of screws, washers, and an occasional “this is what your bicycle should look like after this step” picture. Over the next few hours I managed to complete the project and put it in the living room where Jonathan would be sure to see it upon waking.

   Before going to bed to get a few hours of sleep, I paused to look at the bicycle. There before me was another stage in my son’s growing up. It seemed like only yesterday I had gone through the same ordeal to assemble his first tricycle and then a big wheel and then a scooter — first-fruits of transportation. And now, a bicycle — a symbol of growing up, of added responsibility, and of moving at greater speed toward the next rite of passage, the automobile. Perhaps that is the purpose of tricycles, big wheels, scooters, and bicycles. With each comes greater mobility to move just a little farther down the road toward adulthood. Perhaps each bike of passage is meant to help parents to turn loose of their growing children, a little bit at a time, so that it doesn’t hurt so much when they finally leave home.

   For the time being however, I will enjoy my son and his new bicycle. I’ll watch him ride it up and down our cul-de-sac and teach him bicycle safety rules. I’ll help him up when he falls down and bandage however many scraped knees and elbows he suffers. I’ll repair flat tires and realign crooked handle bars and replace broken reflectors. I will do this and more. We will do it together, my son and I. And I will treasure these moments in my heart because one day I will see him travel down the street only to return for occasional visits. Yes, the bikes of passage are inevitably leading to the day when my son will go off to pursue his own dreams and hopes and visions and goals. And as he travels toward that end he will shed and discard his tricycles and big wheels and scooters and bicycles. As a daddy, I do not want to neglect my responsibility to bring up my children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) while I have the opportunity. After all, one day their tricycles and big wheels and scooters and bicycles will no longer be parked in my garage.


  1. Oh so true how quickly that time goes by. It seems like just yesterday when my children were young and now they are all grown adults. Touching story, I enjoyed reminiscing also.

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