Saturday, August 14, 2010

Learning How To Ride A Bike

Today my youngest daughter finally learned how to ride a bike. She is 8, going into 3rd grade and had planned on never riding a bike. She thought it was scary, didn't want to fall, felt like the pedals were stuck, blah, blah, blah. Her list of excuses was a mile long and was really cute at one time. But, at age 8 these excuses were no longer cute and were just annoying. She is the "baby" of the family and wears that title like a badge of honor. The rest of us are sick of it and I believed that overcoming this fear would start to diminish the role of baby that she so proudly wears.

So, today after 3 years of trying to teach her to ride a bike I put on my mean parent hat and marched her outside. She of course cried the whole way down the driveway, her helmet on somewhat crooked begging to put this off for just one more year. I refused to give in to her pleas. I told her to get on the bike and to stop crying. The start of this process was not easy. She cried, I lost my patience, I would let go of her and she would inevitably lift her feet off the pedals every time I let go. After 10 minutes of her screaming and of course probably making the neighbors believe I was beating her I let her stop. In my frustration, I pulled out the big guns, "I am very disappointed in you." I rarely say that to my children for a couple of reasons. First of all, I am rarely disappointed in them. As long as they try their best, I am not disappointed. The second reason I rarely say that, I save it. Let's be honest, when we were kids nothing got us to do what our parents wanted more than that phrase. So, I say that very sparingly, kind of my get out jail free card. My secret, it always works. Today proved to be no different.

After spending about 20 minutes in her room crying, Maeghan came out and told me she would like to try again. I promised not to loose my patience, she promised not to cry. After about 4 good pushes, she got it. She really did. She rode that bike like a champ and ended the session very proud of herself. In fact, now she wants to ride and tells me how fun it is. She is wondering why she was so scared. I guess only she can answer that question.

So, I guess that sometimes it is okay to be a pushy, overbearing parent. Sometimes it is okay to lose your patience and sometimes it is okay to force your child to do something that they don't want to do. Had I continued to let her dictate this milestone, she would not know that she likes riding her bike. I am really proud of her and I am not going to feel guilty tonight for my tactics today, even if they may seem unorthodox to some people.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

No, I haven't posted in quite some time. The last week was busy with my husband and kids, making even a few minutes to blog seem impossible. But, now at 5:53 am I find some time to myself. Thanks to my 12 year old son who woke me up at 3:45am for advil, my husband kindly got up to get it for him, but I never fell back to sleep. Even as a preteen, kids can still be known to wake us up in the middle night, the occasions are rare, but still occur. This brings me to today's blog, someday I will have an empty nest and I got a sneak preview of that future last week.

Last week my husband and I sent all of our children to a week of summer camp. I have been a parent for nearly 13 years, so a week without children in the house seemed very unfamiliar to me. We have had times when we got a night, maybe 2 nights alone, but never a week. I wondered how I would deal with them not being here. I learned a few things about myself and how I will deal with my empty nest, which is still a decade a way, but we all know how quickly time goes by, so I was willing to think about it.

First thing I learned, they will survive when they fly away. The fact that I have 3 children who went to camp for a week without one of them having a terrible case of homesickness means that I am doing something right. They have the self confidence to leave us, 2 without a friend at the camp, and make new friends. They had each other of course in case of an emergency, but they were with their own cabin groups. Making friends, having fun and not needing me to get them through the day. My husband and I helped to build that independence that will allow them to live as confident adults.

The second thing I learned, I will survive. Yes, I missed them dearly, so did my husband. But, I realized that I did have a life before kids. My husband and I were married for 3 years before our first was born. We used to do things that I forgot about. We would eat dinner when we wanted to, watch movies that were not always family friendly, we used to spend hours at the bookstore just browsing and we would sleep until we woke up on the weekends. As the kids are growing up, we are starting to do these things again, but not often. I learned in that week, that I still like the freedom I used to have. Don't get me wrong, I would not change the last 13 years for anything, but I have learned that a part of me misses my old lifestyle.

The third thing I learned, my husband and I should probably focus more on us as a couple before the last one flies the coop. We had a great time together, but I fear that someday, when the kids are gone we may wonder if we still know one another the way did before we had kids. I hear about it so often, the kids leave and you look at your spouse and wonder who they are. I don't want that to happen. Lately our days revolve around transporting them for one location to the next, yesterday's transportation schedule was unlike anything we have ever had to manage. I don't think Eric and said 2 words to each other yesterday that were not somehow related to the kids day, and it is summer. What will fall bring?

The fourth thing I learned last week was that it really is a lot cheaper to feed two adults without preteens in the house. We didn't need to go to the grocery store to replenish the constant consumption of snack foods that 12 year old boys seems to need to continue growing. It should be pretty easy to practice frugality when we are alone in this house.

The fifth thing I learned is that I REALLY like having a clean house. I need to insist that the kids help me more in acquiring that. Given how much we do for our kids, asking them for more help to keep their home clean is not asking too much.

I learned a lot more than I can write down in a short time on a Wednesday morning. But I guess the important message is that when I have an empty nest, life will go on. It will be different, it will be an adventure and it will continue.