By Erin Gardner, Contributing Blogger
I do remember getting my first new bike, though. I wasn’t three however, and all the bikes before it were hand-me-downs from my two older brothers. So getting my first ‘girly-girl’ pink bike frame – complete with white banana seat, wicker handlebar basket and pink and white tassels – was a very memorable moment of my childhood.
Let’s fast-forward to 2013. Claire, my three-year-old daughter, just received her first new bike. And at first sight, she exhibited all the joy and exuberance I did many years ago. I even had that glorious flashback of me and my bike and all the fun I had riding around the neighbourhood with my friends.
Claire gingerly touched the seat, and somehow at the same time squealed in jubilation at the sight of – you guessed it – the beautiful white tassels. She was in love with her Canadian Tire Pixie Dust bike.
Seeing her so excited at the prospect of getting on that bike blinded me to what was to come; of what was inevitable to occur.
Claire waited patiently while I adjusted her helmet so that it fit her snugly and securely. She let me help her on to her bike while phrases of “Oh Mommy, I love it!” and “It’s so beautiful!” escape her lips in anticipation of her first experience riding a big girl bike.
Once she’s in the sitting position with both feet firmly and squarely on the pedals, I give her a little push and urge her forward with words of encouragement. “That’s it, sweetie! Push down with your feet! Push forward a little more – that’s it – you’re doing it!”
And then her squeals of laughter turn to tears of despair. I blinked. What is this? Why is she crying?
I run up to where she has stopped in the middle of the road, in the throes of a complete meltdown.
I ask her what’s wrong and she throws her head back in despair, “I CAN’T DO IT, Momma!”
I shake my head, still confused at her reaction. She had been pedaling all on her own, she had made it about 10 feet down the street, and her training wheels were keeping her fairly balanced. Why was she so upset?
Again she wails, “I CAN’T DO IT, MOMMA!” Sobs rack her little body and she starts shaking.
I bend down and give her a big hug and tell her that she’s doing a great job. I tell her that we’ll turn around and try it one more time, going back towards the house.
She asks me for her Barbie three-wheeler. That little noisy, pink-and-purple plastic attempt at a tricycle that she used last year and was buried somewhere in the back of the garage. No way. It was Pixie Dust’s time to shine!
I tell her, “No, let’s give it one more try.”
Yes, I know. I pushed it. My excitement for her got the better of me.
I encourage her again to push down with her feet on the pedals. Her little Dora shoe slips off and she begins another round of sobs.
The Pixie Dust bike has now lost its lustre. Tassels and banana seat be damned. She tells me she doesn’t like it and gets off the bike in tears.
I later realized that what would have helped her over that initial hump of frustration was me pushing her for a longer period of time. That’s all she needed. She couldn’t tell me that, of course, but we did figure out that important piece of information the next day when we gave it a try after a good night’s sleep.
I learned an important lesson this weekend. My excitement for my daughter got the best of me. I was holding on to my experience and not focusing on helping her adjust to hers.
But even as I write this I can see the two of us riding happily into the sunset on a hot July evening. Sigh. She’s only three, Erin. There’s lots of time to get the Pixie Dust Express broken in!