There are just some things that are hard to teach young children: how to hold a pencil correctly, how to tie their shoes, how to make their beds, adequate basic hygiene like teeth brushing that brushes all of the teeth and showering that cleans all of the parts. And then there’s teaching your kid how to ride a bike. It involves balance and concentration and patience from them and running alongside a bike from me, so the whole experience presents a variety of problems.
I’ve been working with our youngest to get him solo-ready for a couple of years. I’ll admit I haven’t always suggested it as often as I should have. Call it busy family or lazy mom or the usual predicament of the 4th kid, it just hasn’t been a priority. It hasn’t helped that he’s been reluctant to ride. Naturally athletic by nature, he’s used to being able to conquer physical activities pretty easily the first time, but this bike thing has been a different story.
So when we had that beautiful sunny Sunday last week, it occurred to me to pull out his bike and get him back in the saddle. After we filled up the low tires, he hopped on. Up and down the driveway we went—him pedaling erratically and swerving like a maniac and me jogging while grabbing a wadded-up bunch of the back of his shirt.
Not long into the lesson, he said, “Is it okay if I sing a song? It will help me focus.”
“Sure,” I panted.
“Keep on trying. Don’t give up,” he sang in a made-up tune. “Never give up. Just don’t give up.”
We continued until I felt he was correcting his balance issues—going a little to the left if he was too much to the right. Then I slowly let go of his shirt. He rode a few yards by himself until he veered off-road into some grass.
“I did it!” he cheered. He hopped off the bike and ran to me in joyful triumph. “I rode my bike!”
We hugged and walked back to his bike for him to mount and try again. “I just kept remembering something important that I hear a lot,” he told me, full of introspection and wisdom from his hard won victory.
“What was that?” I asked him, assuming he’d repeat some sage advice I’d given him.
“You never give up,” he said, proudly.
“That’s right,” I answered. “And where did you hear that?”
“Ricky says it to Lucy all of the time because she’s always trying to get in show business. And he’s right, she never gives up so she got her own TV show.”
I realized he was referring to I Love Lucy, not the careful parenting of his mom and dad. But if it helped him remember to keep trying, even when things seem impossible, then I’m okay with that, especially if it means I can stop running alongside his bike.