One of the blogs I read has a subtitle in it's header: Preparing for the future by relying on the past. It's messages are always deeper and more thought out than mine, but here's my take on it today and how the past helped me last night.
I have two girls of bike-riding age who were terrified of their bikes. They both (generally-speaking) wanted to learn to ride them, but when the moment came to climb onto the seat they would break down in tears and refuse to try.
My past may have had something to do with that fear. Here's how I remember learning to ride.
I don't know how old I was, but I remember the bike. It was baby blue, and being the fourth child, a few of us kids had used it as our first two-wheeler. It definitely had no fancy schmancy gears and it's questionable whether or not it had brakes. I can't remember how I stopped. Probably by putting my feet on the ground because I know I was too big for the bike when I learned.
Our back yard sloped down fairly sleeply, with a trail and trees at the bottom of the yard, and a path my dad created to the river to launch our canoe. In the winter when the shallow river was frozen, we could toboggan all the way from the top of the hill to the ice on the river.
The same could be done with a bike in the summer, but we weren't stupid! Compared to today's standards we lived with less supervision and were therefore more reckless, but not actually stupid. There would have been time to stop or turn off onto the trail.
My big brother figured it was time I learned to ride and pushed me down the hill on the blue bike.
"How did you stop? Did you fall? Did you hurt yourself?" asked my kids.
Honestly, I don't remember, so it must not have been traumatic. I told them this story to make them think they were lucky to have parents who would teach them safely to ride on the grass in the school field, or carefully holding onto the seat and handle bars while they tried on the sidewalk. No big brother pushed them down a hill.
This tactic wasn't working though. Beth had been motivated enough to teach herself once we bribed her with a toy she really wanted. That wasn't working on Laura or Alice.
So last night we pushed them down a hill. Forget safety and love. I wanted them to ride their bikes, to lessen the pain in my back, to JUST GET IT OVER WITH!
No one fell. No one can scare my future grandchildren with stories of abusive, unloving parents. And two kids learned to pedal and stay upright within a few minutes. Yay!
I'm hoping that this summer the whole family will be able to take short rides together. Without screaming, without falling and without training wheels.