“Stupid bike! I hate it!,” my son declared this morning, kicking the tires of his brand new big boy bike. He’d just fallen off again and was nearly in tears.
You see, yesterday I brought home Isaac’s first pedal bike — a shiny, orange BMX-style Norco — to replace the pedalless run bike he had been riding for the last three years. At the bike shop I’d asked the mechanic to take off the training wheels that came with the bike. I didn’t even want Isaac to know that training wheels existed. I wanted to test the theory that kids who learn to ride on run bikes have no problem riding a pedal bike. In our case, it just wasn’t true. He was having a hard time and he was frustrated — especially since he’s a kid who is naturally athletic and picks up new sports easily.
But after falling off for the 10th time, I suggested that he take a break. The school bus was going to arrive any minute and I wanted him to start the day happy, not sad. He glared at the bike on the ground and then yanked it upright. “One more time,” he said. And then got back on and pedaled a few more feet than before. When he fell off again, his legs all akimbo and helmet bouncing off the ground, he jumped up and asked if he could practice again after school.
It’s funny because, when our children are born, we desperately search their bodies for physical features resembling our own. Some people have told me that my son looks like my husband, but with my eyes. Others said he has my chin, but wonder where the stick-straight hair comes from.
But, as he grows up and it becomes clear that the straight hair and perfect nose are inherited from my husband and his hobbit-like feet and dimpled chin are from me, it’s not the physical traits I brag about. No, it’s his determination I am most proud of. Sure, his stubborn streak frustrates us, but we know it will serve him well in the long run. Even if he needs to kick tires or swear or have a temper tantrum in the process of learning a new skill, I will continue to cheer him on.
Whether inherited or learned, it’s my son’s persistence and grit of which I’m most proud.