I’ve done it again. I’ve done yet another thing I swore PK (Pre-Kids) that I would nevereverEVER do. I promise you, you will roll your eyes, and you will definitely lose respect for me if you ever had any in the first place.
Let me preface my confession with a pre-emptive defensive explanation. I’m a firm believer in doing things myself even if it’s not something I want to do. I am terrified of heights but climb onto my roof to clean the gutters. I’ve powerwashed lots of stuff. Put together raised garden beds. Conquered downed trees. Fixed retaining walls. I can show household problems who’s boss! Did I want to do these things? No, but I technically can, so I did, despite being a delicate soul. I hate outsourcing jobs if I can figure it out myself, as unpleasant as they may be. Plus I’m cheap.
Yet I’m outsourcing not only a job, but a rite of passage for my child. I’ve retained a hired gun to teach La Chica how to ride her bike. Yes, I’m well aware it’s like outsourcing potty training. I’ve tried teaching her. I really have. For years. I don’t want what should be a positive memory to turn into a battle of wills that leads to a trail of resentment. And at some point, she really needs to learn to ride her bike. Because I said so. And it’s because I said so that is precisely the problem.
We have a dynamic, she and I. She wants to be just like me, she tries to dress as “twinsies” and replicate my outfits and habits. But when it’s my idea to do something, she refuses. She needs to decide to do things on her own terms and timetable. In her quest to be just like me, she has no idea she already is. I do not like be told what to do. I run in pouring rain, snow, sleet, ice, below-zero temps, in the dark, in 100+degree temps, in every conceivable environment because I can. Because I refuse to let Mother Nature tell me what I can or cannot do. It’s my big F*ck You to her. I shout a lot of metaphorical F*ck You’s to the world at large, because I can. Is it mature? No. It’s also oftentimes neither effective nor helpful, but that’s for another post. It just is. So La Chica gives me her metaphorical F*ck You every chance she gets. She most certainly does not like being told what to do.
I understand also the need to actually parent a child. Provide guidance and parameters and rules and expectations. Those who know me would say I’m actually a pretty strict and conservative parent in most things. But here’s where I’m starting to experiment. I need her to understand her No means No. I need her to understand her feelings and beliefs need to be honored even if I don’t agree with them, even if others don’t agree with them. I need her to believe all of her thoughts and viewpoints are valid. She may not be right, and she may not get her way, but she needs to know that she’s heard.
Otherwise, she soaks in society’s messages of what is proper for a lady, what is beauty for a female, what milestones she should achieve to be deemed a success. Otherwise, she won’t learn that her No really means No, and she’ll be more apt to be pressured into doing things she doesn’t really want to. I want to support her innate ability to assert her self and her being and her needs to the world. The trick is teaching her to do this in appropriate and kind ways.
I don’t agree with her point of view most of the time. In fact, I don’t understand her most of the time. I don’t like her preferences and abhor many of her passions (princesses, make-up, more princesses, the color pink, Katy Perry). But these are the things that resonate with her, make her heart sing. So I need to honor these in ways that are appropriate for her, and acceptable to me.
So what does all this have to do with riding a bike, you ask? You’re wondering if I over-think things, aren’t you? Only when I’m not impulsive. Here’s the thing–she’s consistently refused to take my direction with learning to ride a bike. It doesn’t matter why–it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t trust me, if she’s just digging her heels in to be oppositional, it just doesn’t matter. What matters is she’s said no–she will have no part in learning how to ride a bike with me. So I have to honor that. Yet realistically, La Chica learning to ride a bike would make family bike rides so much more entertaining and mobile–forward movement is helpful with bike riding. So I have to figure out how to do this while honoring her decision. I knew I had to bring in a neutral third party to be the buffer. She is remarkable with teachers and other parents. And she was actually really excited for her lesson. Until it actually began.
But I tell you, it was a marvel to witness. I saw so much of myself in her. Every time she fell, she got back up, and she cried and screamed and kicked the bike. But she refused to give up. There was defiance in her posture, scrappiness in her picking the bike back up, fierceness in her face as she stared the teacher down. She has no idea we are indeed “twinsies.” We both love our metaphorical F*ck Yous.
The morning exhausted her. Being pissed off for 90 minutes takes something out of you. So I was surprised she let me take her out to practice some more in the afternoon. We talked about how she never gave up, and how in life we all fall down. We talked about how the important thing is how we get up. We talked about how we all get hurt, and that’s OK to live through that pain. We talked about how proud we are of ourselves when we are on the other side of the pain. We talked about how we do hard things. She got back on her bike, took some deep breaths, and said softly, “I’m scared. I can do this.” And off she went coasting down the hill.
She still can’t ride her bike yet. She’s still learning. And she’s still feisty: she said to me, “At least I didn’t get kicked out of class like you did when you fell off the motorcycle.” I may or may not have “helped” her down the hill then.