I don’t feel funny today. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because it’s fall and the kids are back in school. They’re growing older now and sometimes I feel like they need me less. (Except that I just cleaned out the fridge and 75% of what I tossed was empty containers that had been put back in…so I guess they still need some guidance. And they’re right – there’s not much to eat in there once you clear out all the empty frosting cans…).
Also, I think I read way too much news this morning. I don’t know if you saw it, but there were some bad things. I keep thinking about fear. How it keeps us from doing good things and makes us do bad instead. Or how it sometimes keeps us from doing anything at all. I’ve been thinking about how it’s rooted deep in our brains and is designed to keep us safe…except there aren’t many lions stalking us these days and so sometimes it misfires. How, once you’re in a fearful place, you really can’t think clearly. Even if you wanted to. You just can’t.
And that made me think about my little guy. He’s 9 now and didn’t ride his bike until ‘later in life’. Later than all his friends, anyway. It probably shouldn’t have been a big deal – except that it was. It all started when I took the training wheels off. He fell and got scraped up. He does that a lot. Gets scraped up in trees, comes home with turf burn…it’s par for the course. I didn’t think much of it. The difference is, this time, he also got scared. That was years and years ago.
I did not put the training wheels back on. I should’ve, probably. I didn’t realize what a big deal it was to him. And the years went by. And the bike sat, unused.Encouragement was applied. Bribes were offered. There was talk about it being a “life skill” and there was worry (mine). And guilt (also mine). There was also a little boy who stated very clearly, “I can’t.”…and there were eyes full of fear. And he could’t. It’s nearly impossible to do something once you’ve convinced yourself that you cannot. And so I gave up. I let it go.
I took the training wheels off too soon.
He knows how to ride his bike now. He learned all by himself, in his own time. When he was ready. He came in the door that day bursting with pride and pure, unfettered joy. He’d conquered his fear. At the moment, he’s wearing a considerable amount of ‘road rash’…because last week, when he was out riding his bike, he crashed. And then he got right back up on his bike and rode home.
I hope that you never struggle with the guilt and worry that seem to come with parenting. But in case you do…I wanted to remind you. They’re more resilient than we think. We’re going to make mistakes…because if we waited until we were perfect to have children the entire species would die out. We’ll navigate the baby years, the elementary years and the tween years and the dreaded teen years (which, actually…seem pretty cool so far. I’m not sure why they’re ‘dreaded’) and we’ll get there. Because we love them fiercely. And because love conquers fear. Every time.