Tuesday, June 6, 2017

(Just Video) - Francine L Close, Pedal-Biking Pro

Our Big Girl is officially rising her Big Kid Bike. Santa brought her the pedal bike for Xmas; she was able to quickly learn how to get started pedaling and the basics of braking this winter on the blacktop of the elementary school. But as of this weekend, she is riding her bike around the neighborhood, up and down hills, with or without cars on the road, with occasional pushes from her daddy, or reminders about coasting versus full-on braking. The funniest part is that she woke up Saturday morning declining to give the Big Kid Bike a shot again. She had developed an aversion since she last rode it, and although I don't love to use bribery, it is in my parenting bag-o-tricks. And this time it worked like a charm. 

"I have a treat for you," I told her Saturday morning. I have a lollipop that I bought myself back when we drove to Suncadia, and I'll give it to you if you try riding your bike with Daddy today."
"I want a lollipop!" she responded.
"Okay, it's all yours. But only if you commit to trying and practicing riding your bike with Daddy at the Big Kid school. You don't have to do anything special on the bike. The lollipop is for trying. And Daddy can help you however you need, eve if you want him to hold on the whole time."
"Okay! I'll ride my bike. Can I have my lollipop now?"
"Ha, nice try. You wouldn't be allowed to eat it in the morning anyway. But also, you have to earn it first. And I know you get it, so I'm going to tell you again for my sake, not yours, why I'm giving you candy. You earn the lollipop for trying and practicing. The thing is, Daddy and I both already know that you can ride your bike, that you've done it lots of time before. But for some reason you've become a bit afraid. And I think if you can just get over the hump of being nervous, you're gonna love riding your bike, and the treat will actually be the bike riding itself, not the lollipop. Although it's chocolate, so I'm sure you'll like that too," I tell her, kissing her forehead.

As predicted, she takes to it immediately. She's a bit unconfident at first, sure, but we also spend some time talking to her about how she can use her words to tell Daddy exactly what she might be feeling (scared, nervous, unconfident), and exactly what she needs from him (hold my seat, help me get started, run with me). By the end of the weekend, she's riding laps around the neighborhood, even up the big hill from the park to our house.

Watching your daughter learn to ride a pedal bike feels really good. I feel myself swelling with pride for her. I'm vaguely aware of how it must have felt when I first learned to ride my bike without training wheels (my learning to bike pre-dated the scoot/balance bikes). It's just such a unique experience of parenting - watching a person evolve from timid and slow and wobbly to strong and consistent and proud. This happens with so very many things all the time for children, but the experience of learning to ride a bike is so concrete, and almost serves as a metaphor. And then there is the freedom that comes with biking - the first time since learning to walk that your world expands so dramatically.

Being that I felt so proud of her, I was curious to know, and to reinforce, her sense of pride in her own bravery, her practice and work ethic, and her success.

Me: “I’m just SO proud of you! I can’t believe how good you are on the pedal bike now! You worked SO hard! Do YOU feel proud?”

Francie: “Yes!”
Me: “What does it feel like?”

Francie: “Like being happy.”

Me: “What does it feel like in your body?”

Francie: “Like, happiness. Joy.”

Me, to Francie: “I wonder about a time when Daddy felt proud.” To alex: “When was the last time you were proud of yourself? For Unity Day?”

Alex: “Yeah, a week ago, I guess.”

Me: “I felt really proud of myself yesterday, actually. It felt like, uh, a sense of fullness, in my chest. Warm, but not hot. Like I was filled up.”

A couple more minutes pass while Francie bikes up the big hill from April Hill Park, on Logan court, and then she speaks again (re: pride), using those hand gestures and facial mannerisms that remind me completely of the video of young Alex on the beach in his 30th birthday video, “It feels like a (bike) pedal, with something like cookie dough all over, but warm, in my chest. In my heart, actually.”

Alex and I giggle, again puffed up with love and admiration and pride and a sense of such wonder for this daughter of ours.

"That sounds just about right," I say to Alex.

"Yeah, bike pedals with cookie dough - awesome," he says smiling, looking at Francie and then back to me, looking a little bit like that emoji with the hear eyes.

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