Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Joy of Achievement

Etienne on his was to fight crime on his "Bat"cycle
As many of you probably remember, back in October we had the misfortune to find our beloved family bike trailer had been stolen from outside my son's daycare. While it was a sad and frustrating moment, it was quickly dismissed by our son deciding he was ready to ride a bike on his own, and so started a brand new chapter for the Velo Family. Since then, our son has become a superstar, insisting on riding to school nearly every day. He's come a long way from the boy that was terrified to try just last summer.

In watching him master his skills at riding, I've been reminded how amazing it must be to a child to start achieving new milestones in life. I can still remember the looks on my children's faces when they started walking. You could tell by their smile and wide eyes that they knew what they were doing was a huge step, pardon the pun, and were also reflecting the pride in the faces of my husband and I. I see that same look every time our son, Etienne, does something on his bike he's never done before, and I can't help but feel like such a proud Mommy.

It really was no surprise that the bundle of non-stop energy that is our son would have the stamina for long distances. He now easily travels upwards of 20 kms along the seawall if we ask him to, and very rarely complains of being tired. As with anyone learning to ride a bike in a hilly city like Vancouver, it is always the inclines that we are acutely aware will be tough for him. We learned which routes to avoid when our daughter was still getting her riding legs, and try to take things as easy as possible for both of them, and us, if we can. 

Sometimes it's unavoidable though, like the alleyway the children and I ride up to get to their dance class every Tuesday. Each week, Etienne has managed to get a bit further, with a little encouragement from his sister and I. We've even taken to singing a little song modified from Finding Nemo - "Just keep pedalling, just keep pedalling...". I think they mostly like when I start singing it funny just like Dory. At any rate, it clearly worked because this week, he made it all the way to the top without stopping, and the first thing he said was, "I'm going to tell Daddy when I get home!" The excitement and joy on his face was intoxicating, and all three of us were beaming.

Riding a bike is definitely a skill that allows children to start to feel that independence they see in their parents and other adults. They know that this is just the beginning of years of being in control of how they get from one place to the next. For our children, this is no exception, but I can't help feel there is one skill they've both been most excited to master. Since getting out city bikes, the kids have watched my husband and I learn and master the graceful Dutch dismount. It was then no surprise when our daughter, Coralie, did all she could to learn to dismount that way on her own Dutch city bike. We were, however, completely surprised to find that Etienne had been mustering the courage to join his family, even on his little BMX. Just a few weeks ago, when coming home with the two kids, I turned around to watch him ever so casually toss his leg over his top bar and step off his bike. Coralie and I were amazed! Apparently he'd been watching and practising without us even knowing, and was now just like the rest of his family. 

There are times now when I take my kids abilities on a bike for granted. Of course they know how to ride, that's what kids do. But when we have these small milestones, it's a reminder of how far they've come since sitting comfortably behind Mommy and Daddy in the trailer or on the trail-a-bike. I couldn't be prouder to see the joy on their faces, or the excitement they feel about riding. I'm also very happy that through all the frustration, loss of patience and anxiety, my husband and I have been able to pass on yet another important life skill to our kids. Now, if only I could get them to clean bathrooms as well as they ride bikes, and I would be one happy Mommy!

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