Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Perfect Rebel

Christmas is coming, in case you haven't noticed. If you are wondering what to get me, I made a wish list right here. But all facetiousness aside, I spent the afternoon in Toys R Us and my mother minded the kids at the Bakugan gaming station while I went in search of stocking stuffers. While I have one child of each gender, I was able to spend most of my time in one particular isle: This one:

Bakugan... of course.

Thankfully I was able to avoid this isle.

If I had given birth to one of these kinds of girls, I'd be lost. 

But this is the isle that I wished I could have spent time on. Just because it is so cool.

My kids do not seem to share in my appreciation of the bicycle. And just to test out this lack of appreciation, when I finally teamed up with them in the store, I called each of them over to the above pictured isle, independently (because the girl is bossy and the boy is a follower) just to gather their genuine opinion.

The boy went first and he said, "Oh Moooom, NOoooo, bikes?"

The girl, because she is older and has begun to develop that sense  of self-promoted coolness, "Uh Mom, No." And quickly did a pirouette and circled away.

Sigh. I try.

And I quietly wondered if they do the same thing when their father talks about NFL football.

I brought up my disappointment with a bike friend of mine recently. "I mention bikes and they immediately rebel," I believe is how I phrased it. The boy was with me at the time and he immediately proceeded to demonstrate his brand of rebelling when I asked him if he was going to ride bikes with me one day, and made this face:

And while this photo was not taken at the time of the above incident, it was not hard to recreate the moment. 

"They wouldn't have had a lot of "rebelling" modelled for them as of late, would they?" My friend asked, giving me a knowing look.

OK. Good point. My life in the last few years has been all about rebelling against everything I don't want to do. A good insight coming from a guy who has no children of his own. At least your friends will be honest. And at least my friends know I can take their honesty.

I brought up the same issue with the two psychology instructors I work with and this brought on another insight: They probably associate biking with a lot of boring standing around and waiting. 

Also true. I've brought them to workouts and I've brought them to races and while I let them run amok and play in the dirt and the bushes at these things, our stay still always seems to outlast their patience.

When are we going? 

WHEN are we going? 


So I go and I race and try to get a babysitter when these things fall on days I have the kids (or I don't go).  I envy all the other parents who's kids race too and are happy to be there. I've spent a year feeling envious whenever I see any family out for a bike ride together. I feel envious when I see 4 year olds riding without training wheels. My son is nearly 7 and he can't ride on two wheels.  Last summer we did family outings to the park several times but this was when the boy could still ride those tiny bikes with training wheels.

I bought my daughter a bike for her birthday this year. Her first bike with gears. She was happy to get it. I actually think the boy was a little jealous because the bike is his favourite colour, red.  I think she's ridden it twice. Once for practice and once at the Girl's Tri out at U of M -- back in May. In all fairness, this is not entirely her fault. When you are a single parent and you have one child who adamantly refuses to ride, you can't leave him at home alone and go riding with the other one. So we don't go.

Or maybe I'm just too easily manipulated.

Riding our bikes at the lake. And yes, she's not wearing a helmet. It got forgotten at home 200 km away. Slap my wrist and consider me sufficiently scolded. 

With my son I have tried everything. I've tried bribery. What better offer could I have given him than a Nintendo DSi?  NOPE. Nothing works. I gave away his bike with the training wheels. His knees would have been at his ears this year. He has a bike that he can ride but it won't take training wheels. I've tried. The chainstay is too wide for the brace that comes with the ones you buy as add-ons. Today I even offered to bring the bike in the house and let him ride around in the basement. NO. What kid wouldn't jump at the chance to ride their bike in the house?

He's a bit of a fearful kid. He's afraid of falling off his bike. I don't blame him -- so am I. Maybe he's heard me talk about this too. He was at the race where my friend crashed and was taken away in an ambulance. He asked me if this could happen to me. I ducked the question.

In addition, he gets nervous any time the complexity on something he is learning gets harder. He passes the video game over to his sister when he can't get through a level. She does it for him. He's having some trouble in school with reading for the same reason. He gets anxious and he gives up as soon as the words get harder.

I wish I had known about these kind of bikes when my kids were small. I would have skipped the training wheel bikes all together. I'm a true believer.

The pedal-less Adam's Run bike...... Brilliant!

I imagine all it might take is patience and another year. I try not to expect my kids to be me. Maybe they'll never share my love of bikes. But I can sure keep trying. And, frankly, at some point, I'd like to NOT have to drive them to school. Someday.

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