Our six year-old granddaughter stood at our door, bicycle helmet on her head. When I opened the door to ask her what was up, she jumped right in with, “Papa, will you play with me?”
“Sure,” I replied. “What shall we do?”
“Ride my bike.”
“Looks like you’re ready to go”
“I’ve been practicing already. I need someone to help me.”
So, off we went. She refused to use training wheels or a broomstick taped to the frame running up behind the seat. I had to run alongside her (but under no circumstances was I to actually hold her…just be there to catch her, should she fall). That’s not too hard to do on the top, flat part, of our driveway. And she’s very athletic, has a great sense of balance, and is fiercely determined. She does not quit. It could’ve been a very long afternoon.
Within a few minutes, however, she was going around in circles with little if any help from me. Soon, her circle became an ellipse. Her ellipse grew larger. Before long, she intersected with the downward slope of the drive – and – she was off! I couldn’t keep up with her. I ran as fast as I could down the driveway, all the while imaging the worst. I flashed to broken bones, perhaps; cuts and bruises, most certainly. Gallons of tears. I got to the bottom of the long, steep driveway just as she was coming to a stop.
Breathlessly, I said, “Boo, I can see your heart beating. Were you scared?”
“Oh, very much so,” she responded, shaking.
“You made it all the way down the steep part of the driveway without crashing,” I exclaimed, feeling relieved and proud at the same time. “How did you do that?”
She put her hands on her handlebars and stared straight ahead. I could tell that she was reliving the experience. “I kept telling myself ‘you can do this.’ ‘you got this.’” Then she looked at me and said, “that’s what you always say, Papa.”
I choked back tears and asked her if she wanted me to help push her back up the hill to try it again. Of course she wanted to keep doing it! But she wanted to go on the Greenway (a paved path along the river in our town). She got her mom to take her. Not content with just our driveway, she had places to go and parts to explore! On her bike!
For a kid, learning to ride a bike is huge. It opens up possibilities that were closed until now. Sure, our granddaughter could go to the Greenway and walk. But she wouldn’t get very far. And there’s lots to see and do along the route. She knows of the wooden bridge “way far away” and the bend in the path were turtles often make their way across to the water below. She remembers those spots from when she rode in her mom’s carrier seat. Now she can reach them on her own. And who knows what else?
Having accomplished such a milestone event, our granddaughter has the experience and pleasure of knowing what that feels like. She can do it. She knows that she has the ability to tackle just about anything she sets her mind to. Showing up. Digging in. Adjusting her attitude and effort – all contribute to her success. AND being steeped in Little League affirmation creates the right conditions for all this activity in the first place. We always cheer and affirm and encourage one another at out house. It’s so much a part of our daily experience that it’s natural. “No” does not seem to be part of our vocabulary. We won’t know if we can do something unless
and until we swing. I have a feeling that she’ll face any future challenge with gusto and confidence. She’ll have our voices in her head saying: “you can do this!” “you got this!” Imagine the possibilities….