The other day Lil Bit and I took a stroll around our neighborhood. I walked. She rode her bike. The rule is I have to be able to see her at all times. she’s not allowed to turn a corner with out me.

I watched her pedal away up the block and as she sped off into the distance, I was thinking all sorts of big Daddy thoughts.

“Isn’t this cool? There she is exerting her independence. Dashing off fearlessly into the next adventure, eager to see what lies ahead as I trail behind.”

Watching my kids out travel out in front of me always makes me emotional. It’s one of my favorite parenting moments. Seeing them forge ahead with out their mother and I using the tools and skills we’ve taught them to be independent; it always makes me smile. I always imagine myself as the alpha male of a lion pride or wolf pack; observing my young. I may look casual and even aloof, but I’m always watching as I allow them to explore, but not get too far ahead.

It also makes me wistful to realize that they are growing up and they rely on me less and less each day. It’s a funky thing, because it means that Erin and I are being successful as parents. Still, everyone likes to feel useful and needed, right?

As I’m drifting along in my mind and wandering up the block, Lil Bit is straddling her bike idle at the corner waiting on me to catch up.

Suddenly, she lets the bike drop and comes racing down the street on foot SCREAMING all the way. She runs clean by me, grabs my waist with one arm, wraps herself around me and peeks out from behind me staring at her bike. It seems an excessively large insect buzzed her tower. She was convinced it was going to eat her alive and she came running to me for protection.

Lil Bit couldn’t understand why I was smiling as we walked up to retrieve her bike and continue our jaunt.

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