I learned to ride a bicycle when I was about eight years old because my father couldn't be bothered to put the training wheels back on after a publicly humiliating and abusive attempt by my parents to teach me to ride.

For weeks after the failed "lesson," my bike sat in the garage, first out of stubborn anger at the situation on the part of my parents and later because, despite living with us, my father was almost never around, spending his evenings with friends, drinking beer and working on race cars. My mother probably could have put them back on, but she never did, likely not wanting to usurp my father's position as the "man of the house" or tear herself away from her own afternoon/evening responsibilities (to housework, severe mood swings, and mudslides).

One day, my friend wanted to ride bikes, again. Tired of turning her down (and really frustrated that she was nearly a year younger than I was and could ride a ten-speed), I grabbed my bike from the garage, hopped on, and taught myself to ride rather quickly. Of course, I was proud of myself and told my parents, hoping to erase the stigma brought on by our abusive first attempt. Naturally, they were not impressed, and to this day, my mother will bring up that embarrassing day as a joke at my expense, generally to point out how "crazy" and neurotic I was.

Even so, I did it. I conquered my fear of riding a bike and opened my own door to years of enjoyment and empowerment as a result.

Today, on Father's Day (another in a line of greeting-card-driven holidays that I despise), I'm embracing this story as a metaphor for my entire relationship with my father, remembering that I may be scarred and saddened by his actions, but I'm also strong and self-reliant.
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