Big news: Fletcher learned to ride his bike yesterday. Hooray! So I’m not trying to say we’re on track for the Tour de France or anything but this is an event several years in the making. Fletcher got his bike for this 4th birthday and its been chained by training wheels ever since. In Fletcher’s defense, his trainers have been preoccupied with the minor leaguers that arrived the same year (sorry the World Cup and All Star Game in the same week are causing me to mix sports metaphors.) There are lots of things that got in way, and none of them were particularly good. Whatever it was “learn to ride a bike” has remained on Fletcher’s childhood bucket list.
Until yesterday, when it happened. You want to know why it happened? “Because I’m a pusher, I push people.” No, not like a drug pusher, an actual pusher. (Right now, you’re picturing poor Fletcher on his bike shaking and shrieking and me strong-arming him down the driveway mumbling things about being a man. That’s not how it went down.) Indeed, Fletcher was refusing to lose the training wheels once again, he even went so far as to offer to take a nap as an alternative. I almost went for it, after all who turns down a nap? But then he said “I just don’t want to, it’s out of my comfort zone and I can’t do it.” Internally, I said “oh hell to the no” and externally I said “life is everything outside of your comfort zone.”
Marking his disinterest in the bike as a “fear” made it a must-do in my book. Prior to that one comment, I was content to let him conquer two wheels on his own time. But he struck a nerve. In fact, he managed to discover one of my deepest fears as a parent. No, not that my kids won’t be kick ass bike riders, that they will be afraid. That they will let fear get in their way. That fear of being different will keep them from doing what they love. That a fear of getting hurt will keep them from doing all their bodies are capable of. That a fear of failure will keep them from trying something new. Or that a fear of loss will keep them from loving deeply.
I want my kids to know that absolutely everything good in my life has started with a tiny knot in my stomach and a mental “you can do this.” And I want them to know that they can do it too and that fear isn’t a bad thing as long as it doesn’t keep them from leaving their comfort zone.
So, yes, I made him get on that bike and no, he wasn’t very happy about it. You should have seen the look on his face when he managed to take off on his own. We left our two fears and the two training wheels in garage. I hope we don’t see them again for a while.
“What if I fall? Oh, but my darling,what if you fly?”