All evening, the boy wondered when he would get to open presents. The first round of gifts were distributed and opened in front of him. Bundles filled with clothes, toys, gadgets, and holiday foods were opened and ohhed and ahhed over. But he had gotten nothing yet. He didn't understand. His eyes glazed over as he attempted to get an answer for his pleas, "Why didn't I get a present?"
His father tried to explain that the first round consisted of presents from his parents to everyone else and that he would get presents very soon. This explanation seemed to mollify him though he wondered what "consisted" meant. He couldn't sit still until a present finally was put in his hands. The delay only increased his appreciation as he opened up a protective helmet. The boy declared that it he loved it and that it was what he had always wanted and handed it over to his father to open it. He was not exactly sure what it was, but he had opened it and it was his. The gift would make more sense when he opened up a pair of Star Wars Roller Skates with protective gear.
Again, the gift was what he had always wanted. His father grimace inwardly as he considered what the future held. His boy would put on the elbow pads. He would put on the knee pads. He would put on the helmet. He would put on the wrist guards. He would put on the skates. His parents would take him outside where he would skate and fall. He would cry and never skate again. Tonight, his shoes were too big to fit into the skates, but the day would come.
Days later, the boy was suited up with more protection than a stormtrooper. The one chink in the armor was the backside.
At first, the boy would not let go of his father's hands, and gripped his father as though he would never let go. After a couple of times up and down the driveway, the boy insisted on skating in the street. They went into the street.
He told his father to just hold one of his hands. A couple of times up and down the street and the boy demanded, "You can let me go now, Daddy." The boy's father was now the one that couldn't let go. He knew that if let the boy go that he would fall and would hurt and would cry. Again the boy asked his father to let him go. With reluctant acceptance and a measure of pride, the father let go his boy's hand. The boy skated with awkward grace and confidence for several moments. Then he fell.
"I hurt my heinie!" the boy cried. His father picked him up and brushed him off, sure that this would be the end of skating for a while.
The next day the boy asked to go skating again. It was raining. The next day he went skating. He refused help of any kind and skated and fell and skated again.
Each day the boy grows a little more independent and demands that his parents let him go a little more. Each day, his parents let him go that little more, knowing he will fall and hurt, but they will let him go nevertheless and will always be there to pick him back up again.
Today the boy turns five....