Little Libra learned to pedal today. It’s even more basic than teaching her how to ride a bike. This tricycle has been in her life since she was a baby and she grew so accustomed to being pushed, she didn’t realize that she could do the pushing herself. She told me all her friends know how to bike except her. And she said it without self-pity but as a matter of fact. She didn’t think it was strange that she never figured it out or that her parents forgot to teach her. But because I am her parent and never did teach her, I dropped everything before she learns how to feel embarrassed which is what I was really feeling.
Teaching a kid to pedal is kind of like diagramming sentences. You intuitively know the parts of the sentence but you have to go through the motions of specifying each element. Personally, I learn through trial and error and observation. Soph is not a figure-it-out kind of girl, maybe because she’s so used to having things done for her before she makes a breakthrough, which is part of the reason she doesn’t have a real yaya. She has to know how to do things for herself. She’s capable and ever so trainable. Two and a half years of on and off yaya-hood already created a dependency on menial things (putting on clothes, shoes, socks, brushing her hair, packing away etc). Ultimately, it’s grown into a bad habit of being afraid to try, being afraid to fail and maybe just pure laziness. So part of my mission as a full-time mom is to teach her, coach her, believe in her and believe in myself that I can get through to her. It’s f***ing hard. (I curse at this one instance because that’s the only way to express how hard it is! )But you can’t hire anyone to make your kid competent….
Back to pedaling.
My first instinct was to push her knees so she’ll see how her legs move with the pedals. “Push with your legs!” And she did. She didn’t move. She grunted and pushed her legs and the pedals didn’t move. Then I realized pedals don’t move with your legs, they move with feet. I grabbed her feet and made them push the pedals forward. First she used the balls of her feet to pedal but they were not developed enough to generate any strength. So we tried her heels and that was the tipping point. She made two to three full cycles and was so delighted that she couldn’t take her eyes off her seemingly magic feet. Her smile was wide and her dimples deep. It was as if she tasted victory, overcoming an age old nemesis, her own self.
And then she fell.
Her feet were pushing the pedals simultaneously and by some law of physics she toppled over. I told her that the feet need to take turns pushing. Taking one step at a time, her tricycle moved forward and closer to me.
Then she crashed into the wall.
Her eyes were on her feet not toward me. “Look at Mommy.” And she did as if posing for a picture and her eyes went back to her feet. I adjusted my instructions. “Look at where you’re going.” And somehow when her eyes had a direction, her hands followed and she steered clear of the walls.
I felt like she won Olympic Gold.
YEEESSSSS!!! With my fists clenched. High FIVE!!! The baby was hanging on my waist and I just had to put him down to stretch my arms up to the heavens. YOU DID IT!!!!
And in many ways, Soph and I are in the same bike so to speak. We’re both pedaling, inching forward, gaining momentum and falling backward every now and then. It’s taken me a while to get back here — to this space, this voice, this arena. It’s been over 6 months since my last post and over 18 months since I wrote regularly. I have to deconstruct the act of writing all over again. I have to approach it in basics rather than this whole monster glob of guilt, doubt, fear, and failure. Read, write, edit. Repeat. One foot in front of another, eyes on the goal, head held high. My daughter teaches me in ways that she doesn’t even know.