I love my children with such intensity that I’m amazed that I don’t explode (literally) into a billion bits.
Tonight I had a chance to bond with Zoë as I taught her how to ‘start’ riding her new (old) bike that she bought yesterday (using some money in her savings account) and it was an experience filled with excitement, joy, pride, fear, shame and sorrow.
I know those last two words may seem a little shocking? How could these things happen in the midst of such a joyous occasion? I’ll take you there…
The following exchange between Zoë and I came after she first realized I was running behind the bike but no longer holding the banana seat:
Zoe: “Wahoo! (deep sigh, then in a quiet voice) I should have learned to ride a bike when I was 5 years old (sounding and looking embarassed).
Rob: “Hey! You are totally doing this… I am so impressed with how well you’re doing… You should never be ashamed, or embarrassed about not learning to ride when you were 5. That’s MY fault.”
Zoë: “It’s just that I see little kids riding and I’m 9 now”
Rob: “It’s not your fault, it’s mine. I am so sorry that we are so overwhelmed. I really want so badly to not feel overwhelmed and you need to know that I love you and think you are way cool and absurdly awesome.”
Zoë: “Thanks Dad (she tries to hug me and falls over)”
Rob: “You okay?”
Zoë: “Yes, I guess I’m overwhelmed, or maybe I’m gonna fart? (she chuckles)”
Rob: “Seriously though, you need to not feel ANY shame or embarrassment. You just need to feel determination and pride because you are making it happen. You will succeed if you believe you can ride.”
Zoë: “Okay, thanks dad”
She then rode her bike by herself (wobbly at first) down the sidewalk.
This may not seem like a big deal. Kids from all walks of life learn things at different ages. Some kids never learn to swim, others don’t learn to ride bikes, or play musical instruments, or sports, etc. Some kids never have the opportunity to do any of these things. These things I am aware of, they are things that I feel a great deal of empathy and compassion for.
The big deal for me is that I feel bad. I don’t like to see my kids feel shame or embarrassment for things they shouldn’t feel embarrassed about or ashamed of. The reason that Zoë hasn’t learned to ride a bike is me. I have been putting it on the ‘shelf’ for 4 long years and it broke my heart tonight.
This will pass. I’ll get over it. I just felt really raw because we spend so much of our time and resources on Sam; keeping him safe, keeping them from killing each other, Sam’s day-to-day needs.
The great news is that Zoë is on her way to being a bike rider and this will ultimately get the whole family out on bikes.