Thursday, October 17, 2013

10:12 PM
So last Sunday I posed the following question to my daughter as we were eating breakfast "Do you want to go for a bike ride up at the trail while mommy runs?"

Her face lit up - "Absolutely!"

"Alright lets do it!" I said and started to scurry around to get ready hoping that I could capitalize on this moment. (The back story is that my daughter, still using training wheels, usually NEVER really wants to go for a bike ride. The other back story is that someday being able to run while my kids bike is my idea of heaven).

Unfortunately, "scurry" in my case meant making sure everybody finished breakfast, went potty, and got dressed; confirming that my son and husband were set to go to gymnastics class; and loading her bike and helmet into the car. A good 30 minutes later I said "OK, lets go" and was met with deafening silence. Any momentum and enthusiasm for biking had been replaced by fixation on a new art project and I no longer had a willing training partner.

I stood in the doorway of my daughter's room and considered my options: (1) Forget our run/ride and do stuff around the house so she could continue on her self-directed adventure in art, or (2) Insist that she keep her earlier commitment and make an effort to practice riding her bike.

With the perspective that, on the balance she does A LOT of art during the week, and NO riding of her bicycle, I opted for (2) and with my husband's support got her in the car, to the trail and ready to ride.

We are lucky to live a short distance from a lovely running/biking trail that parallels two reservoirs and an undeveloped watershed. This trail is something of a sanctuary for me and I have spent hours and hours over the last few years up there, running, sweating, and thinking. We started our run/bike at one end of the trail and for about the first 0.5 miles it was fine. I helped her a little on the uphills and jogged next to her on the downhills and flats. It was a beautiful morning and we chatted about the experience and the music we had decided to stream from my phone.

Then.... the whining started. And the complaining. And the not trying. And then I was pushing her on even the flats. And then we made it to the turnaround. And then she was still pouting and moaning. And then I was still cheerfully chatting and encouraging and motivating her. And then I had HAD ENOUGH.
Not The Happiest Camper

Not known for keeping my temper I stopped running, threw up my hands, and said "Fine - you don't want to bike. Get off then. You hate it so much - fine, I'll get rid of the bike. Is that what you want?" 

She looked at me a little stunned. Then she realized I had called her bluff.

"No, mommy, I don't want you to get rid of the bike".

"OK then, are you ready to practice your riding and to have fun doing your best?"

"Yes" she said and, sure enough, she climbed back on the bike and pedaled away.

I am not proud of that moment on the trail, but the end result was she finally snapped out of the moaning vortex she had spiraled into and allowed herself to enjoy the experience. We managed to have a great ride in the end and she finished pink, pleased as punch, and making plans to do the same 4 mile ride again the following weekend.

All is Well That Ends Well, I Guess
I still don't know if I did the right thing though, either by insisting that she come riding, or by asking her to keep going for a little farther once she wanted to stop. I know I didn't push her anywhere near her physical limits, and I knew in my gut that if she would just let herself, she would enjoy the ride, but it was definitely touch and go there for a while.  The irony is, as we ran/rode together (often with me pushing her by the handle attached to her bike) people would give us these huge how adorable smiles. One man even said to me "Wow, you are an amazing mom and woman".

All I could think was I am pretty much forcing my daughter to ride her bike (granted with lots of support, in a beautiful place on a beautiful day). How amazing of a mom and woman does that make me, really?

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