Bows and Arrows

Now that I’m a dad (of 3 and 5 year old girls), this chapter from Kahlil Gibran’s book The Prophet is something I find myself re-reading quite often. I loved the elegance of his writing long before I was a father, but it connects with me much more deeply now.

Every moment with my children is imbued with two emotions – savoring them and lamenting them for their fleeting and temporary nature. (Another writer once labeled this “Nowstalgia.”) Every advancement is a step closer to total independence from me.

I took the training wheels off my eldest daughter’s bike yesterday. She didn’t want me to let go as I guided her along, and when she had tried it for a while, she asked me to put the training wheels back on a little while longer. I told her I would raise them higher so she could ride without them without the risk of falling.

Part of me wants to keep her training wheels on forever, but I know that keeping a child dependent is the highest crime a parent can commit. Stronger than my desire to keep her small and always seeing her daddy as her protector and hero is my desire to see her ride her bike full-speed with the wind in her hair and know the freedom I felt when I first discovered that magical mixture of momentum and balance. It’s the closest thing to a real flying carpet we have in childhood. And I want her to have the confidence that feeling creates. i.e., “Wow! If I can do this, what else can I do?”

Yes, she is my little arrow, and I must be a stable bow.