Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What you never wanted to try

My oldest son is a funny child.

Not in an “I’m a class clown, I’m going to make you all laugh” kind of way (although he has as much of that in him as I can handle too)… but in a quirky “Sometimes I just gotta shake my head and chuckle” kind of way.

He’s so head-strong. Really, he’s just me re-incarnated. He knows EVERYTHING already. You know how your mother always warned you, when you were being really obstinate as a child, that ONE DAY the Gods would get even and you would have a child JUST LIKE YOU??

Yeah, well that’s him.

He can be challenging to parent because he’s always pushing his boundaries. And he’s got a stubborn streak a mile wide. He knows what he likes (whatever he’s familiar with or passionate about) and he KNOWS what he doesn’t like (basically anything he’s never tried). It’s a constant dance to stay a step ahead – and a constant battle to push him beyond… to get him to expand and try new things. Sounds like a contradiction when I put that down – but there it is.

So he’s a contradiction… and also a great eye-opener as to what my mother really had to put up with all those years with me. Apparently she has a well-spring of patience that runs even deeper than I realized.

(By the way, thanks Mom, for not smacking me like I know you must’ve wanted to… or locking me in my room sometimes – which probably would’ve been much easier for you!)

I think I’ve rambled a little off track here. All I really wanted to do was announce that he has finally learned to ride a bike. I wanted to muse on the transformation that I’m seeing in this boy of mine as he grows and matures and branches out. The friendships consuming his time, the preteen dances he wants to attend now… and the wings he seems to be growing as he becomes himself.

Bike riding is a big part of that. The freedom that it brings – the ability to travel to friends and with friends… to explore our little corner of the world a little.

Learning to ride a bike is such a mundane achievement… I mean, everybody does it at some point, right? But it’s also such a huge step in childhood because, in my mind and memory at least, it opens up their world so much.

The reason this is such a huge achievement for my boy, however, (and the reason for the ramble above) is because he was never going to do it.

The kid flat-out refused to try and learn to ride. He didn’t like bike-riding. He wasn’t good at bike riding. He didn’t care if his friends were going to be bike riding. He really likes roller-blading. Not everybody ever has to learn to ride a bike.

Stubborn. Stubborn. Stubborn.

We tried to tell him how great it was – about the freedom and about hanging with friends and about how much he was going to want to… but he had a reason or a comeback or an argument for every pitch we made.

We even reminded him about how he never ever wanted to try chocolate milkshakes the first time we showed him one and offered a taste (I’m serious about this kid’s aversion to all things new!)… how he recoiled at the brown “stuff” on the spoon and wouldn’t let us get it anywhere near his mouth for a taste… how we had to cajole and convince and then he finally tried it and - Oh My God – it was awesome… his favourite.

And how many other examples along the way during his relatively short time on Earth? How many things he absolutely DID NOT LIKE that, once tried, became favourites or all-consuming passions for him?

We told him that bike-riding would be no different. But he would not budge.

Then, over a two-day period last fall, his older cousin taught him how to ride a little. It was right at the end of fall, so there was no time to really get into it before winter – but he did learn.

And now this spring, it’s as if a light has been switched.

He can RIDE!!

And he loves it. Loves it with the all-consuming passion he assumes for everything new he focuses on. He wants to ride his bike to school every day… he wants to ride his bike to his friend’s house to go riding every evening... He wants to ride with his friends all weekend long.

He's so cool and he’s so fast and bike riding is SO awesome.

We just have to shake our heads and chuckle.

Unbelievable this son of ours.

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