MY DAD’S nephew (an older cousin I never met) died in a biking accident so I was never allowed to own one. Now, at 4 years old, my youngest son can now ride his bike without training wheels, while doing tricks like: standees, wheelies, manuals, and wannabe bunny hops. My heart is in my throat when I see him do tricks. I mean, hello, his protective gear can only do so much.
A part of me wants to knock my MTB (mountain biking) loving husband on the head because this is really all his "fault"! His influence is at work here. But clearly, my son is in his element on 2 wheels with his smiles reaching the sky. Definitely, one of the hardest parts of being a mom is just standing aside to watch my three kids do their own thing, even when every inch of me screams to hover or take over so I can personally protect them.
But this recent summer, as my littlest boy learned these skills that are quite advanced for his age; he taught me, a creature of comfort, to bravely face the discomforts of uncertainty. He reminded me that people, even adults, only truly grow when we are out of our comfort zones.
So, as much as I wanted to shriek and sass him into submission to stop riding that dangerous bicycle, which my own parents referred to as the death mobile; I had to clamp my mouth shut, trust in my son’s skills, and pray that he would be fine. I was amazed at his determination, along with the words that came out of his mouth, which then reminded me of these life humbling lessons.
"Show me how!"
When kids show interest, even if we parents feel scared, we have to hold back our own fears to let our children bloom. When they’re enthusiastic, that’s when they learn fast. My youngest son really wanted to imitate his Dad and older brother so he asked them both for biking tips. He patiently watched, listened to advice, and then he mimicked.
"I’ll try again!"
He quickly learned to ride with two wheels, as if it’s the most natural thing in the word. However, his tricks like the wheelie (popping the front wheel), especially as he passed through a speed bump, was met with many falls. I could see his frustration, but he was determined to keep going. And so he did! “Try and try until you succeed” is an old adage that indeed carries a lot of weight.
“I did my best!”
After a particularly hard semplang (fall), I saw him fight tears as he clutched his thigh. It must have hurt. I wanted to hug him right away because I knew he was upset, but I held back. When he reached me, he sighed and said with downcast eyes: “I did my best, Mom.” I squeezed his shoulder and said, “Yes you certainly did, darling. It’s ok if you wanna rest and stop now.” He shook his head and said an emphatic no. I was proud of him for his resilience and determination.
All parents want to raise happy kids, but all of them at some point will experience grief, defeat, disappointment, and frustration. And we adults won't be there to always fix things for them! This particular scene emphasized to me that parents have to give their kids opportunities to learn to sort things out, even the hard stuff, on their own. Learn to let go and trust that God and their guardian angels will be there to protect them from potential harm.
"I need help."
At one point, my son was trying a particularly difficult ramp and he struggled. He looked to his dad and finally asked for help. Being available to listen to our kids is far more important than jumping in to solve things instantly. When we parents remain calm, even when things aren’t going well, we help build our kids tolerance for stressful and difficult situations. Doing so gives our children room to test their limits. They may need to fall a few times so they'll know what they're truly capable of and what aspects they need to improve on. They can either practice some more or seek help when they’re truly stumped.
“Look at this, I did it!”
Finally, he was able to hop up the ramp, spin his bike, go down while in a standing position, and popped his wheelie. He was so happy and proud of his own accomplishment. Despite his many falls, he never lost the courage to keep on trying. Now, every time we ask him to go inside because it’s getting dark, he will always say: “One, last!”
I still feel scared when I watch my youngest child hop on his bicycle, but there’s really not much I can do because he loves it. Scared is what I am feeling. Brave is what he is doing. So carry on, boy. Just go and keep the wheels spinning.
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Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 14, 2017.