Like Riding a Bike

“Mom, my body was not meant for a bike.” My daughter Ruby was five when she said this to me.

My response was the typical mom one: “Of course it is, sweetie, just keep trying.”

It’s been almost three years—Ruby still does not ride her bike. It’s killing me. We’ve tried everything: on the grass, peer pressure, brand-new bike, other bribes. Nothing seems to work. She claims she wants to ride, even says when she sees other kids younger than her riding she feels embarrassed. This is when she tries again but gives up before actual takeoff. Did I mention it’s killing me? I also really don’t know why she can’t/wont ride her bike.

But here’s what I do know: I am a terrible bike-riding-teacher. I’m the one getting frustrated. I do my best to hide it and sometimes feel like my face is going to explode behind the plastered on smile and constant encouragement (parents, you know that smile). And still, my almost-8-year-old, cannot/does not ride her bike. It’s still killing me. I’ve talked about this on my radio show and received tons of advice. Still, no takeoff. I’ve baked for, bribed, and begged her, to no avail.

Today I’m putting the kickstand down on my angst. I’m releasing the notion that she should be able to ride her bike by now. I’ve learned many times that how I think the world “should” be is often not how it is, and kids don’t often do what you or I think they “should.” I “should” have learned this lesson by now! This biking experience may be the training wheels for the monster-truck parenting challenge I’ll face in the future. For now, I’ll let the tires go flat, the bell be silent, and wait for Ruby to ride when she’s ready.