Of Bikes and Bravery

August 21, 2011

Have you ever had an attribute ascribed to you that you didn’t deserve? Something happened once so it got stuck?

Like my in-laws say that I’m scared of midgets. That’s completely untrue. Sure, one time while walking in the dungeonous basement of the Indiana Statehouse, I was startled by a midget. Sure, maybe I gasped, flinched, and turned to walk the other way. But it was only one time!

The same is true with riding a bicycle. I never learned to ride one as a kid. There are probably several reasons, not the least of which was that we lived in the country on a dangerous road. And we were so far away from any friends, we couldn’t bike to them if we wanted to. Plus, I didn’t really want to. But Shayla taught me how to ride a bike in college, so the “Jay can’t ride a bike” rumor is (now) completely untrue.  It just took me a really long time.

So when I tell you that it took Brayden a whole summer to learn to ride his bike without training wheels, you may think that’s a long time. But let’s keep it all in perspective.

Brayden, like me when I was a kid, is our more cautious child. He loves swimming, but gets nervous putting his head under water. He loves playing with his neighbors, but usually won’t go past the first limb when they climb trees. And when it came to riding his bicycle, he was a little scared. More than a few of our practice sessions ended in tears. Not because of a scraped knee or elbow, but because Brayden was too scared to get up and try again. He wanted to ride, but reallyreallyreally didn’t want to get hurt. Potty training was a piece of cake compared to bike riding.

On the day he actually rode for the first time, I was going to play nine holes with a friend. I told Brayden that if he rode his bike, he could come and play too. I didn’t think that carrot-and-stick would have much of an effect, but I was certain of it after he refused to even get on the bike once. Even after the fit ended and he gave it a go, he pushed his breaks while Mommy was helping him balance — a move that caused her to turn her ankle (Side note: I think I can say this now that we’re in “we’ll laugh about that someday” territory, but if you ever wonder why our kids overreact to minor injuries, watch Shayla stub her toe).

Mommy's injuries

But after a few more runs with me, as Shayla watched from the sidewalk, Brayden pedaled on his own about 30 feet before coming to a smooth stop in the grass. We cheered, and Shayla cried (I think from pride, not the ankle), and Brayden beamed.

And he's off!

I don’t think much of the success was related to our golf incentive. I think it was just a product of a lot of practice and confidence and trust built up slowly over the summer. Brayden learned that sometimes the scary things in life are completely worth doing.

Truthfully, we probably learned something about parenting as well. We ran the gamut of emotions and tried as many methods as you can think of. But whether it was golf or just a lot of practice, we learned that the most important thing is that patience pays off.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, The Little Couple is on.

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One Response to Of Bikes and Bravery

  1. Mommy Shayla says:

    Jay,
    You are making my “injury” seem like it wasn’t a big deal. When I say I am hurt…that means I’m hurt. I basically kept going forward as Brayden slammed on his breaks on his bike. Causing me to hurdle over and roll my ankle horribly. And my sad little pinky toe got all scraped up in the whole shuffle…but the ankle really hurt. I gave birth to two babies…women have mastered pain! Shush!

    Brayden,
    I am soooooo proud of you! And Daddy was right, the tears were tears of joy!! Love you!

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