I'm not quite sure how this happened, but my nine year-old daughter hadn't learn to ride a bike.
One could argue this isn't an essential life skill; it still felt important. Perhaps because I remember many an elementary school afternoon whizzing down my street (sometimes with no hands), exhilarated by the speed, the wind in my face, my growing independence. I wanted my daughter to have this experience.
But at nine, nearly ten, rather than being eager to learn, she was afraid. Which is why — when my family asked what I wanted for my birthday, in addition to asking for tacos and ice cream pie (a favorite childhood meal), I asked Miranda if she would practice learning how to ride.
She graciously agreed, but it was shaky. She wasn't comfortable getting on, getting off, turning–or riding, and needed my husband to spot her non-stop. So taxing was the first outing that my husband came home, and wryly said “Happy Birthday!” Teaching someone when they are frightened is no easy task; being the man that he is, he persisted.
Yesterday, we hit pay dirt.
Miranda had just finished a practice session. She was so excited about her progress, when I arrived home from my errands, she was ready to head back out so that I could see what she could do: get on the bike, speed up, slow down, trace an elaborate serpentine pattern, hop off like she'd been riding for weeks, if not months — with absolutely no help from dad.
We were proud of her; there were high fives all around.
Most importantly, she was proud of herself, her demeanor bright. She'd taken on something hard, including her fear, and conquered it.
A few hours later, she was back on the bike. This time in our neighborhood. She picked up a few scuffs and scrapes in the process, but it was clear she wore these not as signs of defeat, but badges of honor.
Do you remember when you learned to ride a bike? How did you feel?
Do you have an inkling of something that one of your loved ones needs to do in order to cultivate their sense of self? How can you gently nudge them?
Is there something you need to try, because you'll regret it if you don't, but you've been scared? What is that thing?
Who is there that can help you as you ride through your fear?
How many scrapes (read: badges of honor) can you accumulate in the process of trying?