Lessons in Learning to Ride a Bike
A few months ago, we bought my son a bike for his birthday. We tried the pedal-less running bike. It worked amazingly. In a few short sessions, he was zooming down the driveway, looking and feeling pretty confident about “riding his bike.”
After a few weeks of that working, we decided to jump right in and put those pedals on. It did not go so well. It was much harder than he (and I) had expected to pedal and balance at the same time. Suddenly, riding his bike was not so fun and the bike started to get pretty comfortable resting in the corner of the living room.
As summer was coming to a close, I realized if we didn’t do this soon, it would be another year before any bike riding would be taking place. So my husband suggested taking just 5 minutes every day to practice. I think I was even more reluctant than my son about this regime. The thought of trying to practice something that you can’t do is kind of discouraging.
After 2 days of holding on to the back of his bike while he focused so intently, I started to wonder, “Is this even possible?” However, on the 3rd day of practice, I felt this moment where I could tell my son was balanced, so I just let go. And before he even knew it, he had ridden his bike for about 5 seconds. He was so happy. I was so happy. Deliriously. Because when our children feel joy, we feel joy 10 fold. That is one of the sacred gifts of parenthood. The immense pleasure of being a witness to our children’s lives.
The next day Fynn said he was going to try riding his bike by himself. And then he did. Up the street, down the street, and back about 20 more times, every single time, yelling out at me, “I can’t believe I can ride my bike!”
I’m not sure why bike riding is such an important skill to master as a child. Maybe because it is our first taste of freedom, of feeling that our bodies can propel us forward. We feel the wind in our face and the strength of our limbs. We can move ourselves, in any direction we choose.
The following Saturday Fynn rode over 20km in one day with my husband. He is now a full fledged bike riding machine/maniac. As I watch those two riding down the street together, off on another adventure, I can hear a page turning in the chapter of Fynn’s life. There is a new boys club in my house, a cool, special bike riding club that both father and son are getting HUGE amounts of fun from. And my heart is soaring for both of them.
As parents, we always want our children to feel successful in their endeavors. We worry over milestones constantly. And our adult minds are so quick to meet trouble halfway when all we really need to do is to wait and hope*. In each lesson our children learn, there is always a lesson for us as parents. On that day I learned that even when we aren’t sure, it is our duty to encourage the impossible.
* “Wait and hope” ~ The Count of Monte Cristo