Friday, May 10, 2013

In their own time




 When Hejjo turned 5 Martin and I bought him a bike. We were both really excited to get him riding independently and took him out the very next day, helmet strapped on, us guiding and cheering him from behind. Martin and I were fueled by our own happy memories of hours of bike riding with neighborhood friends. Hejjo, who had never really asked for a bike, was unsure what to do with it or how to begin, but he was a good sport and played along.

 It didn't take.

 For a few more months we tried every now and then but with no real results. He understood pedaling,  he could balance for a couple seconds at a time, but it in the end it was all pretty much a big falling over, crying, mess. The bike was put away, gathered a few cobwebs and then promptly sold upon our move here. He never learned to ride that bike.

It's a reoccurring theme with our children, and I suspect happens in other families as well. You have this great eagerness to introduce your child to those milestone moments. You can't wait to take the pictures, call the  grandparents, brag to your friends..."he did it!" And "it" is everything from eating those first solids, taking the first steps, learning to use the potty, reading his first word, and the list goes on. There are other things on that list that you know have to happen that you don't really look forward to. Figuring out how to wean the child with fewer tears, not catching them when they take those first steps, letting them struggle with a particularly hard word, when you could so easily read it for them. Throughout all of these moments and many more I have constantly had to ask myself, "is he ready... Am I pushing too hard... Am I being too easy on him... "When is the right time?!"

When I put all my energy into guiding them down a new path I have to navigate how much of what I want to happen is about me, and how much is about them. Is it the right time, or is it just me deciding "it's time?" I can't always tell the difference. Luckily, they can. Sure, there are moments where logic and being the authority take over and children need an outside force to show them the way, but in my experience, more often than not, if the path is open to them, they'll make their way down it soon enough. I just have to be reminded of that from time to time. The best part is, when you don't force them, when you wait for them to be ready, in their own time, the crying, the red faces, and the anxiety are replaced with broad smiles, cheers of joy, and a mutual feeling of real accomplishment. And a much sweeter memory.

This past Christmas the boys both received new bikes. A couple weeks ago it was finally dry enough and warm enough to pull them out and give it all a go. I prayed Hejjo wouldn't have such a hard time of it, knowing how much he truly wanted to be able to join the neighborhood boys on their bikes. An hour later, with no help from me, he had figured it out, all on his own. It took him a little longer than some, but he got there.

Not quite yet, Kacio.


  1. Good job Hejjo! I've just been reading through blog and wanted to wish you happy Mother's day. I really admire your writing ability, and everyone looks great. They grow so fast. Tell Marty I said hey. (I'm still not falling for this whole "Martin" thing.)

  2. Totally agree. We are itching to get Caroline a real bike and she just isn't interested. The same thing happened with her and learning to read. I really tried to push it early, thinking if I didn't she wouldn't learn. And then, out of nowhere, she just started. She wasn't ready when I wanted her to start, and it made for a stressful situation for both of us. Now reading together is fun and enjoyable. Learning to let them be who they are is very hard, and I am grateful for these early and relatively inconsequential examples of that. Glad you guys are doing well and enjoying the warmth!