For quite some time now, I’ve been trying to devise a way for my entire family to spend a glorious morning together, like those picture perfect commercials you see on television. You know the ones, where the whole group is out riding bikes together, or playing basketball. Out for a morning jog. Keeping active, with big ecstatic smiles on their faces.
I honestly wasn’t out for perfection. I know better than to expect that with children. A commercial is one thing; real life though? You take it as it comes, and you get what you get (and you don’t throw a fit).
Kevin loves bike riding. I love running. We have a Burley, which can attach to the bike. Nolan sits in there. The question was Ben. He’s not skilled yet on his bike, and the training wheels have been removed from previous teaching sessions. He’s not much for running. Kevin remembered seeing a scooter in our garage, never been used. I believe a good friend of mine passed it onto Ben a couple of years back, and it had sat in it’s bag all this time. When I informed Ben of this finding, he was elated. What would normally be a lazy Sunday spent in bed, turned into Ben quickly running down the stairs to check out his new toy.
Normally, I’d have to egg him on to get dressed. Today though, he had no fight in him as he dressed himself, and ran back out to try out the scooter. I proceeded to show him how to use it on our kitchen floor, and he was trying it out while the rest of us finished getting ready. He zoomed through breakfast, and was one of the first to head out into the bright sunshine.
Before heading onto the bike trail, Ben had some practice runs with the scooter. He was a bit unsteady, but I thought he was making some real progress.
I don’t think Ben agreed with me.
Roughly two minutes in, he started to complain. He’d fall a few times. He was leaning to one side a little askew, and he’d drop the scooter in frustration and inform me that he was done, and that he wanted to go home. He started to cry, and said his stomach hurt. Then, he was thirsty. The cherry on top was the fact that his knees hurt now, from when he last fell.
I’d attempt to show Ben a better way to use the scooter, which would give him a better center of gravity. He didn’t care. I said I’d hold onto his scooter and jog with him, but he wasn’t having that either. I offered to take the scooter, and he could walk/jog/run, but he didn’t want to do any of those things. The more he’d fall off, the more he’d throw the damn thing in anger, and of course, the angrier I also became.
If Ben can’t master something in record speed, he gives up. He decides that he will never be able to accomplish the task, and he moves on to something else he knows, and is familiar with. Thinking back to my own childhood, I was never allowed to “give up”. My dad would take his girls on various fishing trips, which equated to hours of driving time, rarely stopping for bathroom breaks, and when we reached our destination, we fished. Whether you caught one or not, you were going to fish, because it’s what we came to do. I can’t recall whining or complaining about being out there under the hot sun, casting bait into water, but if I had I know my dad would simply say, “That’s too bad. You wanted to do this. It’s what we came to do. Let’s get it done.”
Was it cruel or wrong of him to refuse to allow me to stop? I’m sure at the time, I thought so. But seeing this scene unfolding, I know now he was having me follow through and finish a task. You can’t just give up because it’s not going the way you wanted it to.
When Ben would fall down onto his scooter in a heap of tears, I told him to get up and keep going. When he told me he wanted to go back home, I’d say, “in a little bit.” We walked half a mile out onto the trail, before turning around to head back to the car, and most of the time he was trailing behind me, scuffling his sneakers onto the pavement.
I was angry, and sad, but mostly disappointed. I had high hopes for our morning. As I said earlier, I wasn’t expecting perfection, but I had visions of Kevin peddling with Nolan, and Ben zipping around with happiness while I got a morning jog in with my family. If I were honest with myself, I’m sure I was also throwing a bit of a fit, as well. I’m sure I could have handled the situation in a calmer manner.
But then would I be giving in to Ben’s giving up?