I taught Monkey to ride a two-wheeler today. JD, and then both of us together, tried to teach her yesterday, but failed pretty miserably-- she has been using the balancing wheels in the "up" position for too long, and has come to rely on being able to tip the bike any which way without consequences.
See, this kid, who does cartwheels and pull-overs, with no help or even spotting, she was afraid to fall off the bike. This is the most challenging trait she has, I think-- for all of her many talents, she is risk-averse. So I challenge her, early and often. The thing that is as sure to get me upset as finding a dragon egg in his Christmas stocking is sure to make Hagrid happy is when Monkey refuses to think. And she knows it. I don't care if the answer she comes up with is wrong, just that she tried to reason it out, rather than guess it. Of course, once I persuade her to commence with the thinking, she is into it, and always eventually gets it. This is largely because I never ask things I don't think she can handle, and is also why I can tell her that I am sure she can get it if she tries. The main thing is to try. Same with physical challenges-- she has to try.
So today was not at all unusual. I had a friend over, and the two of us talked with Monkey about how boring it would be if we only did things we already knew how to do. My friend pointed out that Monkey wouldn't even know how to go to the bathroom if she wasn't into learning new things when she was little. That there was a real eye-opener.
Half hour or so of talking complete with the afternoon snack, and out we went. You have to try. You have to keep your balance. You have to go fast to keep your balance. Yup, just like that. The most maddening part? She did it once, and then got scared again, so she rewarded us with a long period of screwing up. She did it a second time, and another period of "oy, let me sabotage myself" followed. Finally, the third time she succeeded, she got it good. Not without minor incidents of relapse, but very, very minor.
When daddy got home, she showed off. And then told him that she knew that he would just open his mouth when he saw her. Rather proud of herself. Which, of course, is the whole point-- to create a series of accomplishments, in tasks that seemed difficult at first, such that she would learn to consider taking risks more routinely. Let me ask you this, though-- how many of these experiences do you figure it would take to propel her all the way through high school with a healthy self esteem? I only ask because I am so out of shape that running after that bike today winded me but good. I think I better make these next two weeks or so all about exercise.