Over the past few months, I've been trying to teach Nate how to ride a bike. At almost 9, there's a feeling like "he should know by now" and him not being totally opposed to the idea was all I was waiting for.
A few weeks ago, it clicked and he got it. He's still wobbly and unsure, but sure enough to travel half the length of the outdoor basketball court at the park where we've been trying. 30 minutes before, we'd hit a wall. Leaning on the bike racks, he had dismounted and crossed his arms in frustration. Like his dad, he does not handle disappointment well.
"You're doing a really great job and are so much further than you were last time."
"I know, Dad. It's just so hard!"
"It is. I realized that while you're learning for the first time, I'm also trying to teach someone for the first time. Remember before we removed your pedals? That was a disaster."
"It was a TOTAL disaster!", he said with a giggle.
"But I'm really glad we can talk about it - there's lots of stuff in life that's hard and frustrating. We need to learn and adjust - there's usually more than one way to solve a problem. I'm so proud of you for sticking with it."
"Do you want to go home or do you think you can try one more time?"
"Let's just try once more."
As he tried again, he decided to start coasting a bit instead of trying to pedal from a deadstop. Thus the missing link was discovered.
There are traits that I hope he inherits from me, but a lack of gumption is not one of them. And I hope that by talking about my own experiences (as a person, just like him, and not as a Parental Authority Figure), we'll be able to relate just a bit better.
Last weekend, we stayed at my parent's place. They'd rented standup paddleboards for us to try. Nate was so excited and bravely tried it without hesitation. It's so rewarding to see him do things on his own but also a little sad as it's a reduction in the things he needs from me.