Do you need a push?
Here recently, I’ve taken up bike riding, again, as both a form of recreation and exercise, as well as a hobby.
A few weeks ago, I thought that going out with my daughter on an amazing trail in our county would be a good idea. My husband and I finally taught her to ride her bike at the beginning of the pandemic last year. It seemed as though a lot of children learned to ride their bikes during that time too. Inside activities lost their flair when there was nothing else to do. Many people resorted back to outside activities. We needed it.
So now that I have a bike (it was my Christmas gift from my husband) I thought that biking together with my daughter would be a good bonding activity. NOT!
For the past year, I had witnessed my daughter ride her bike up and down the hills of our street as fast as she could, and alongside me as I would walk about 3-4 miles in our neighborhood. So, I just knew that riding together would be something fun for us to do and that she would surely keep up with me. If anything, I actually thought that I would be trying to keep up with her. I have a bad right knee brought on by heredity and aggravated by the military; so, I cannot stand to ride the bike, as to pull myself effortlessly up hills. It’s a process to say the least.
MAAAANNNNNNN!!!!! If tell you that I was beginning to wonder who was 10 and who was 47. This girl has been riding her bike for an entire year. I have not ridden a bike in probably 20+ years, and only recently started back within the last 3-or-so weeks. So why can’t you keep up, Lil Girl?!🙄
This was the WORSE decision I could have chosen. Maybe it could have worked if I were strictly looking for the activity to be a leisure one, but I needed to burn some calories. I did not come to play.
The Bike Ride
We started out together pretty good. At mile one…she lagged back. I wagon-wheeled back around to pick her up. Encouraged her to keep up with me. Gave her a little instruction on how to use her gears. For a moment, we were back on steady playing field for a few meters. Then, here we go… She’s behind me again. I wagon-wheel back around. I ask, “Are you ok? Is something wrong with your bike?” She tells me, “Nothing is wrong. It’s just hard.”
Me: What’s hard?
My daughter: Riding my bike.
Me: Did something happen to your bike?
My daughter: No. It’s just hard today.
Me: Ok. Well try to keep up. I don’t want to leave you behind, but if I go as slow as you, I might as well walk. It won’t be any benefit to me.
My daughter agrees to keep up. But…she continues to lag behind. Just after mile 3… (Remind you, we have done 3-4 miles in our neighborhood with me walk-running and her on her bike, so the distance shouldn’t be a problem)…I decide to just turn around and head back to the car.
It Won’t Always Be Easy
The ride back became worse than the ride going. And now, because the sun is going down, I surely can’t leave her behind. After a certain point I decide that we should just walk. She apparently didn’t want to be out there, and I was getting NO BENEFIT from the ride.
I began to get a bit frustrated. My daughter is always looking for us to spend mother/daughter time together. She was so excited about me getting a bike. Why was she so removed from our activity? So, I ask her,
Me: Did you want to come out here.
My daughter: I did.
Me: So…what happened?
My daughter: It was just too hard.
Judge me if you want, but I don’t do “It’s too hard” with my children. Though the challenge might be great, we try and we learn. Even if at first we don’t succeed, we push and challenge ourselves and find out what the requirements are so that the next time we have a better chance of accomplishing the goal. We will not fail strictly because we gave up or didn’t try, or because we allowed fear and intimidation to rule over our capability.
Pushing Principle vs. Passion
I drive these principles particularly hard with my daughter, because it’s the principles that people carry with them. I heard Pastor Michael Todd say, “we teach principles because we can’t teach passion.” We can’t make people (especially our children) be passionate about the same things that we’re passionate about; but we can demonstrate the principles we apply to do those things well. Those principles can then become applicable to whatever drives someone else’s passion.
Working hard, trying your best, and challenging your fears are some things that I reiterated with my daughter when she was learning how to swim. For whatever reason, she had a debilitating fear of water. One day we passed by the neighborhood pool and she looked over and said, “I’m never gonna go over there.” When I asked her why, she said, “Because I don’t like the water and I never want to swim.”
This really disturbed me.
Me: Why don’t you want to swim?
My daughter: I just don’t want to, because I don’t like it.
Me: How do you know you don’t like if you have never done it.
My daughter: I just know.
So, what did I do? I turned around and drove to the pool parking lot. From there, she and I just observed the people in the pool. As different children entered and exited the water, I asked my daughter how old she thought they were. There were children in the pool ages 2 to probably 12 years old. Black kids, White kids, Hispanic kids. Boys and girls. We observed that most appeared to be very happy and unafraid. What I shared in that moment with my daughter was that I would not allow her to ever talk herself out of living life. I said to her,
“There is nothing or anyone who ever told you that you couldn’t swim. You haven’t been excluded or restricted from swimming. Instead, you have excluded yourself because of your own fear and insecurity. For that reason, you’ll be taking swimming lessons all summer. You will overcome your fear of water, and YOU WILL LEARN to swim.”
Push Lesson, Take One
The next day I enrolled my daughter in beginning swimming at the Family Y. I signed her up for four weeks. The first day, she was literally trembling on the ride from our home to the pool. I had to continually reassure her that she was going to be ok. She would have two trained swim instructors with her, as well as two instructors for each of the other ability groups in the same pool, plus two lifeguards. And I told her, if all else failed, I would jump in the pool to save her myself, if needed. But between 11 people…I was sure she was not going to drown.
Each day I pushed her to just do better than the day before. It definitely took baby steps though. But, I celebrated each small victory; putting her feet in the water, then legs, body, and face. That was a complete week in itself. By the end of the four weeks, she was at least not afraid of the water anymore, and had learned the basic techniques.
One older lady came up to me on the last day and asked, “Is that your daughter?” I told her she was. This lady was there with her grandchildren, who had all been invited to try out for the Y’s swim team. They were a family of serious swimmers. So, when she said, “I’ve been watching her. She was terrified when she came here. Now she has improved so much.”
That truly made my heart smile. I asked her if she’d share that with my daughter so she could see that someone else noticed her progress. Sometimes we need to know that others at least see that we’re trying.
Push Lesson, Take Two
The next four weeks my daughter resumed swim lessons on the military base, along with her cousin of the same age.
Do you know when her cousin came on the scene my little one went back to acting like she had never had a lesson in her life? Uh…NO MA’AM! For about a week, I watched as my daughter and my niece screamed and played in the shallow end of the pool while the swim instructors proceeded to progress more advanced swimmers to the deeper ends of the pool.
I had had enough.
When we left the pool on one particular day, I again stopped in at my neighborhood pool. I went in the pool house and changed into my swimsuit and told them, “We’re not leaving until you’re both swimming.”
We practiced front-floats, back-floats, and basic leg kicks and arm strokes. When we left, they could both swim from one side of the pool to the other.
The next day, their swim instructors were amazed at their progress. That’s when I said, “This is what I’m paying you to do. PUSH THEM! Don’t let them settle.”
Sometimes that’s what we need from people…to push us during those times we want to settle…settle for not trying…for being lazy…not having discipline…for not being accountable…Someone to check our insecurities…when we’re being petty… unforgiving… or for not achieving or not even trying to pursue our dreams. No, I might not make it; but I’ll never know if I don’t try. PUSH ME!
Let’s not allow each other to settle for not being our best selves. I know sometimes in the moment it may feel better to quit, because it’s comfortable. But not doing…brings regret every time. Everyone needs a pusher.
I’m my daughter’s pusher.
By the end of the summer, my daughter was diving in at the 12 ft. end of the pool with no assistance. Today, swimming is one of her favorite activities. But what if she would have never tried, and what if I had never pushed?
BET ON YOURSELF!
Back to the bike riding adventure. I asked my daughter on the walk back to the car, “Can you, on your own, push yourself past what feels uncomfortable to you so that you can achieve what’s in front of you?” Her answer to me was, “I don’t know. I don’t think so. Maybe?”
My daughter is 10, almost 11. Do you see how early self-defeating behavior can start?
Part of the reality of why my daughter wasn’t riding her bike well, was for the same reason she acted as though when her cousin came she didn’t know anything about swimming. She shrunk herself down for shear fear of being outshined by someone else.
Again, a behavior, that if not called out, will continue to become a habit in her adult life.
I work on self-motivation, character, and self-esteem with my daughter on a regular basis. These are areas she struggles with, but I am committed to make her walk with them…better and not worse.
My prayer is that as women, we all make this commitment; not only to other girls and women close to us, but to ourselves. Let’s not shrink back…and let’s not try to push others back so that we can somehow think we’ll feel better about ourselves. Let’s work on us. Then, let’s push our sister to do her work too. Keep going and keep pushing towards what’s ahead of you. If your sister lags behind, go back and get her. Encourage her. Help her to regroup. But don’t allow her to stop moving or to pull you back with her. Someone has to be the pusher.
As you go forward…never doubt what’s already in you to be great. Even the stuff you thought would destroy you…was meant to equip you for your destiny. My Sister, YOU can do this. PUSH!
Thank you for taking the time to read the thoughts from my heart and sharing in my experiences.
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