Thursday, March 15, 2007

Does the end justify

Way back in September, one of my little men fully mastered riding his two-wheel bike. He was getting the hang of it in August but on that day in September he was finally able to start on his own. In case you've forgotten, it is really hard to keep your balance while going from standing to starting.

His twin brother was a bit more stubborn about it. He was almost there. I could feel that he had the balance but he would just out right panic the second he realized I wasn't holding on to the bike. It then became cold, they outgrew their bikes, and months went by without an opportunity to work on bicycle riding.

Suddenly we had a burst of warm weather. Pleas for new bikes ensued and while it is hard to justify the horrid conditions in China for workers, those Toys R Us bikes for $59 beckoned.

But I put my foot down on training wheels. Poor little man who couldn't ride without training wheels heard "You want a new bike? It is without training wheels."

So last weekend, we went to an empty parking lot. Mr. Big-Shot-I-can-Ride went off on his own. The other one nearly drove me nuts.

He had his balance. He just didn't believe in himself. I would run along side him, let go of his seat but keep my thumb on the small of his back and he would keep riding. He only thought I was holding on. And that was his crutch. His huge crutch. He didn't believe that he could do it.

Before you jump on me that I was comparing him to his twin brother I wasn't. If I had been, he would have been forced to figure this out last fall. What was beyond frustration, beyond my comprehension was that he had the skill. He could balance on his bike without training wheels. He just didn't believe in himself.

I finally took my thumb off his back. He rode for 5 or 10 seconds on his own, without me holding him. Of course, when he realized what was happening he promptly let go and fell to the ground. I tried a few times to get him to ride but I finally had to walk away before I said it.

"I can't believe you are such a -----".

I almost called my kid a wimp. To his face. Later there were moments when he expressed fear that he would hit a light pole. A light pole that was 1/2 a mile away. He feared a pot hole. That was no where near us. I could barely keep it together. My kid was not going to feel the freedom, the joy of riding a bike because of fear. If he didn't work through this, what else would limit him? What wonderful opportunity would he lose because he was fearful?

Fortunately, I kept myself in check (barely). And when he did it, finally, there was relief on both of our faces.

But now, there is pride in his face. He brags about riding a bike. He's actually behaving better in school. He seems to hold himself up straighter.

How will my children remember these moments? Will they recall falling off the bike? The getting back up and trying again? Or will they remember their mother, running along side, nearly exploding because they were fearing what if something bad happens?


chelle said...

What an exciting moment for both of you!!! We just purchased Becca's first bike!! It is going to be a gift from the new baby!

Gunfighter said...

Well done!

L.A. Daddy said...

Hey, at least you were there to help! I learned the hard way. Same way I learned how to swim - toss him in and see what happens.

Me. Hill. Bike. Go.

I hit a parked car about a half mile down the hill so hard that I totaled my bike. I limped home and threw my bike at the idiot neighbor who said he would "teach" me how.

Good for you for being there!

Scribbit said...

This is an excellent post, five stars. I totally agree and have heard it said that part of the reason fathers are so important is because they are typically the ones who tell children to push things beyond their comfort zones and moms are there to encourage common sense and safety--both being in balance of course. Not to stereotype, I'm sure there are plenty of moms encouraging bravery in their kids but I'd just never thought of that as a role in parenting. And my four kids? Each has had a completely different personality when it came to learning to ride a bike. Amazing to me, really.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

Thank you for this candid post. Just last night I was bemoaning that fact that in order to help our children learn to achieve things despite fear, laziness, or lack of self esteem we ahve to be a bit hard nosed and be "the bad guy." It is always worth it when you can see that light of self pride in their eyes upon reaching that mark they thought impossible. I just hope that one day my kids will thank me for making them hate me so many times.

SusieJ said...

Brave Mama! This was wonderful. And, congratulations.

Damselfly said...

Just think of all the future lessons he'll learn and problems he'll solve because he overcame learning how to ride a bike with your support!

Congrats on winning an honorable mention in Scribbit's Write-Away contest.

Theresa Bakker said...

My son is about to turn four and we just bought him his first bike. He's so excited, but not quite ready to set off on his own. Thanks for the inspiration. And congrats on your scribbit honors.

Daisy said...

From frustration to confidence to success! The skill must be worth more to him because he worked so hard to master it. Glad you could run beside him as long as he needed it!

Patois said...

You're a better woman than me. I'd have lost it, I fear. Nice story. Great entry for the contest. Congrats on the honorable mention.

Homeschool Housewife said...

I think you borrowed my son, and now that you have taught him to ride his bike with confidence I would like him back. :)

I think we all have those moments where we think or say something out of frustration. Good job catching yourself and pushing through to success.

Great post, congratulations on honorable mention.