When Maxfield turned 6, back in March, Lauren and I gave him a new two-wheel bike without training wheels.
Max smiled, then turned sad and said, "But I don't know how to ride this. It is too hard."
I told him all the encouraging things a boy needs to hear from his father in an effort to get him to try the bike out. He refused. The bike has been sitting in our garage, untouched, for two months.
Over the past few years I have written here on Poop and Boogies about my fondness for the author Brad Meltzer. Looking through my archives I have written one , two , three, four, posts about him and his books. Stalking the man for the past few years has made us somewhat Internet friends. We follow each other on Twitter, we exchange emails every now and then, we're like pen pals.
Brad Meltzer has a new book, Heroes for My Son , coming out May 11th. Brad's publisher sent me an early copy of the book courtesy of Brad. Being pen pals with Brad has its advantages. Heroes for My Son is different from anything Brad has written in the past, such as his suspense thrillers, The First Counsel and Zero Game. Heroes for My Son is a collection of stories about real life heroes whose virtues and talents Brad wanted to share with his son. Some of the heroes are famous, names and stories that everyone knows like the George Washington or Dr. Martin Luther King. Some of the heroes are not so famous and their stories need to be shared, like Miep Gies or Norm Borlaug.
Brad Meltzer writes a short synopsis of each of the heroes in the book, but his take on the heroes is not the typical straight forward re-telling of the heroes story. Brad gives each hero his own personal touch which makes the reasons why he considers them heroes so much more interesting. For instance, what makes the Wright Brothers heroes is not necessarily the fact that they were the first to fly, but the fact that they knew they were going to fail several times before they got it right.
Heroes for My Son is a simple and easy to read book but don't let that fool you; the depth and power behind each story is truly inspiring. Each story can and should be read to everyone in the family. It is a great book and I highly recommend it. The day I received my copy of the book, last Wednesday, I read a few of the entries to Max and Wyatt before bedtime. The one entry I read was about the Wright Brothers. I explained to my boys how the Wright Brothers were the first to fly. I then read Brad's words about how every time Orville and Wilbur went out to test their flying machine they brought extra building material because they knew they would crash. I never knew that little tidbit of information and it fascinated me.
"Crash and rebuild. Crash and rebuild. But never, ever give up." I read from the book.
Maxfield and Wyatt giggled at that line.
The next night they requested I read more from the Heroes for My Son but they wanted me to read about the Wright Brothers again. So I did.
Last Friday, April 30th, I went home for lunch. Lauren, with broad smile, told me to ask Max what he did that morning. Max told me that he rode his bike. I looked to Lauren for confirmation. She smiled, nodded and whispered so Max could not hear her, "I was so proud of him I started to cry."
Lauren and Max told me that they went outside and Max decided it was time to ride his bike. In the beginning he was very frustrated because he kept falling. Lauren said she did not even really help him at all and that Max wanted to do it all on his own.
I was a bit taken back because I just missed out on a milestone moment in my son's life. I always pictured that moment as me running alongside of him, letting go of the seat and Max peddling his little legs, riding by himself, as I cheered, arms raised in a V as he rode away. I was and still am jealous that Lauren got that parenting moment.
I asked Max how he did it. He told me, very excitedly, how he rode up and down our driveway, across the front walk, then up and down our neighbors driveway. Max told me he was not nervous. He said he crashed many times but he kept getting back up and tried riding again.
"Just like the Wright Brothers." I said.
Maxfield beamed back at me and said, "Crash and rebuild. Crash and rebuild. Just like that dad."
He then smiled and we went outside to watch him ride his bike. It was all a blur. Not because it went by so fast but because I watched him through tears that formed in the corners of my eyes. I blamed the tears on allergies. Apparently I am allergic to my son growing up.