For his fourth birthday, we gave Evan a Big Boy Bike. It was love at first sight.
Until he fell.
He was making his loops around the driveway on his second day as a Big Boy Bike Rider, and took a turn too fast. He fell to the ground, the bike pinning one leg down. It wasn't an injurious fall...just a superficial scrape on his jeans-covered knee, but his ego and his confidence were dealt a tremendous blow.
I picked him up, dusted him off, and encouraged him to get back on the bike.
I let it go for a few days, knowing that the fall, however minor, probably scared him. For the next few weeks, I brought it up every few days. "Hey, Evan! Let's give that bike another go!" "I have an idea....let's go for a bike ride!" "Wow, buddy, that is One Cool Bike over there....wanna ride it?!" I shouldn't have been surprised that I couldn't convince my stubborn little guy.
So I tried to approach it from an emotional direction: "It was pretty scary when you fell off of your bike, right? Well here's what we can do....you can sit on your bike and I'll keep my hands on it until you feel comfortable riding by yourself. With my hands on it, your bike won't fall."
"You know, kiddo, falling off of your bike is part of learning how to ride. I used to fall off of my bike, too. So did Daddy. But with lots of practice, we started to be able to ride our bikes all the time, hardly ever falling off. You'll see that it'll be that way for you, too."
We were playing at the cousins' house at about the one-month-of-no-riding mark, and he saw his older cousin fall off his new Even Bigger Boy Bike. Brennan crashed, hopped up with a "Whoa!" and a laugh, and got right back on.
"Did you see that, bud?"
"Maybe when I'm Brennan's age I'll ride my bike again."
Today I went to the grocery store. As I stood in the produce section catching up with a former co-worker, I received a text message from Sam: "Text when you're on the way home!" it said. Of course I didn't wait until then. I immediately called home to find out what was going on that I needed to know about.
"Are you on your way home?" Sam asked.
"Almost, why?! What's wrong?!"
"We have a bike-rider."
"I'll try to keep him on it until you get home....he's already been riding for 20 minutes!"
I don't have to tell you that I had to keep a close eye out for cops on the way home. I just had to get there in time to see it for myself.
As I pulled around the corner, I could see him pedaling away, a huge smile on his face.
I rolled down the window and did the kind of whooping and hollering that, in just a few years, will embarrass the hell out of him. But for now, he basks in it.
I jumped out of the car...."Look at you!!" I cried.
"I'm riding my bike!" he replied.
And he did so for another half an hour. And he didn't fall off once.
Maybe it's time I get a 2x4 and hit myself over the head with it, but I think this time I've finally learned my lesson with Evan.
Whatever the problem, no matter the situation, he'll figure it out. He may take awhile. He may seem to backtrack in the meantime, but he'll get there. He'll learn how to interact with others in a classroom. He'll figure out how to solve his own problems of having wet socks or needing to wear shorts. He'll decide it's okay to wear a costume or sing aloud. He'll get his hands dirty. He'll get over a fear. He'll ride his bike after a fall.
I need to relax about this kid...and to stop pressuring him to do a certain thing at a certain time or in a certain way. I need to trust him...and to let him take his time and follow his own path.
And to cheer loudly and embarrassingly when he gets there. Because he'll always get there.