Grace’s bike with training wheels was the first to sell today. I posted online ads for all of the kids’ bikes just this afternoon; we can’t count on having space for them when we move overseas.
Halen and Savannah weren’t upset to learn that they’d have to give up their bikes, because I told them they’d get to keep the money from the sales. They’re working hard toward their savings goals.
But Grace is too young to care about money. She cried when I told her we’d have to sell her bike. I had attached its training wheels only two weeks ago, and she had been drinking up the full glory of speeding through the ground-level atmosphere on her big-girl bike.
When I hung up after a conversation with an interested buyer, I had the sinking feeling that I was selling something precious at too low a price—as if I were selling a piece of Grace’s childhood. I couldn’t bear to be the one to see it go, so Abu Halen handled the actual handoff to the bike’s new owner.
A childhood can’t really be sold, I suppose. It can’t be left behind. I still have mine—it’s the foundation of all that I’ve become in these three decades (give or take a few years). And a foundation is as much a part of an edifice as any other element.
That’s what I’ve been telling myself this evening. It’s the kind of consolation I made for myself the first time I felt homesick at a much-anticipated slumber party or the first time my travels took me vast distances from home. After the thrill of newness faded, I fell back, dreading somehow that I had lost myself—that is, I had lost the me that I knew so well when I was at home. I feared I would never be the same again.
My sense of loss was valid. Although I did eventually return home, I was never again the same sort of “me.” But although in the moment, that fear of no return was very real, looking back I see that my changes were worth the price of fear. They were worth the tears.
That’s not a lesson you can teach to a four-year-old, however. Only time teaches lessons like that. And I’m afraid that with Joey’s career path, Grace will learn them again and again. But if God is willing, I will be around to dry Grace’s tears and to hold her until her heart stops hurting and to reassure her that in moving on she does not lose herself; rather, she merely lays another level on her foundation.
It’s my hope that as my family moves from place to place, they’ll feel what glory it is to speed through the atmosphere, not fearing the loss of childhood but reveling in the joy of growing and becoming. We all live to build on what we once were. We may indeed lose our training wheels but only because we have gained mastery over a new domain.
Chin up, dear Grace, and off we go!