We hit a critical parenting moment with James yesterday. The kids wanted to go for a bike ride so we strapped on their helmets and James' knee pads and started off. Well, at least we tried to set off, James was still too scared to ride his bicycle because last time he had fallen off and scraped his knee. He wanted John to ride his bicycle instead so he could sit in the trailer. I tried coaxing and pleading and was considering threatening when John, who was helping Samuel, came over to add his two cents. James was adament about not wanting to ride and I was concerned that if we let him give into this fear again, we might not get him on a bicycle again for a year or two, if ever. He was really that scared! Between the two of us we were finally able to convince James to give it a try for a block with John walking behind him and holding onto the handlebars so James could clutch onto his daddy's arms. After one block, we got him to try another one, then John and I switched off (John's back was killing him from the hunched position) and I convinced James to try holding the handlebars with my hands on top of his, just to see what it felt like. He rode at a snail's pace and eventually made it to the park, our destination of choice. James was surprised that he was no longer scared. He was enjoying the ride AND he had let me move so that I only had one hand on his handlebars to help guide and stable him. We let the kids play at the park and then James willingly got on his bike for the ride home. For the last 20 feet of the ride I even let go of him and he rode all on his own with a huge grin on his face.
Fear is such a strong motivator for why we do or don't do things in our life and I was really concerned that James would learn that it was okay to succumb to that fear. My mind had flashed forward to James in school, being too afraid to try for sports or music or anything he wanted because he was afraid of failure. I know it seems silly to some that I was so concerned with something as trivial as riding a bike, but part of my job as a mom is to teach him that even when he falls, he needs to get back up and try again, no matter how daunting the task or how scared he may be.