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Another milestone in growing up - Valerie Baldowski

I am receiving increasingly clear and obvious messages that my son is growing up before my very eyes.

Last week, when he was hanging out with his aunt, I received the jubilant message that the training wheels had been taken off his little Spiderman bike, and he was whizzing around an empty parking lot like a pro.

I was elated to hear it. I had been mentally debating for several months when to try taking off the training wheels, and the decision was made for us when a bolt was stripped on one of the training wheels and could not be repaired.

So, the whole thing was removed entirely. Now, all we need to do is get a kickstand for the bike, so it won't topple over when not in use.

I remember when I was in first grade or so, and the training wheels were taken off my bike. My mother and a friend took turns running alongside the bike to help me keep my balance, and as soon as they let go, my bike would start wobbling precariously and tip over.

I fell plenty of times, until I learned how to maneuver a two-wheel bike, and I got mighty frustrated, until I got the hang of it.

I honestly thought it would take my son several tries before he succeeded, but I was wrong. He learned quicker than I did. Now, if I had tried to teach him to ride with no training wheels, it probably would not have gone as smoothly.

There's something about the parent-child relationship that makes it hard for a kid to learn a skill directly from his parents. That's why so many parents send their kids to a driving school, instead of trying to teach them themselves. Too nerve-wracking.

My son is a rising first-grader, and he's far ahead of me when I was that age. For example, when I was 6, I was a bit leery of talking on the phone, hearing a disembodied voice and not being able to see who was talking. He doesn't have that problem. When the phone rings, he pounces on it, and begins happily chattering to whoever is on the other end.

If it's one of those pre-recorded, computerized telephone calls from some mass-marketing company trying to sell whatever gadget they're trying to market, he can't understand why the voice won't interact with him.

He's very social and outgoing, and will approach and talk with anyone, adult or child. If there's another kid around, they soon become friends. During our end-of-year parent/teacher conference, his kindergarten teacher pointed out his rapidly developing leadership skills.

During a little awards ceremony the last day of school, he received the "Neater Leader" award, for being the neatest and most organized student, and the one who directed the other kids' activities and games.

I remember when I was in first grade, I played with a girl during recess who had exactly the same personality traits. Maryanne Quinn was her name, and every day at recess she would round up the playgroup and tell us what games we would play that day. With that in mind, I must remind my son not to be too bossy.

I remember when he was a baby, which seems like yesterday. So, comparing now to then seems like a shock to me. Pretty soon, it seems, he'll be ready for college. So for now, I will enjoy this while I can, before he completely grows up and strikes out on his own.

Valerie Baldowski covers government and politics for the Henry Daily Herald. She can be reached via e-mail at vbaldowski@henyherald.com.