My four-year-old learned to ride her bike recently. At first, it was just her and me during the day. She woke up ready to ride, and her six-month-old sister was happy to oblige from her perch in the stroller.
There were a few tears, a couple of falls, a couple of pep talks, and ultimately, one victorious smile as she made it all the way to the stop sign at the end of our sun-dappled sidewalks. What a life.
But then it wasn’t. Saturday rolled around, and my husband was anxious to go on a family walk and experience our baby-turned-little girl riding for himself.
Folks, I lost track of how many times I silently cussed him out. Go ahead and forget the quaint sun-dappled sidewalks; this was scorched earth. He jogged beside her the entire time. I told her she was fine–she could do this. As she neared the *most* gradual of turns, he reached for her handlebars to help guide and hold her steady. Gentle readers, the girl was more than capable. I begged him to let her show her skills with confidence, but instead, she got the message that she was doubted and that there was reason for concern. I’ll interject here to tell you that I am likely a crazy girl mom—her confidence, independence, and autonomy mean everything to me. Just after her being a good human, I need her to know her own power deep in her sinewy muscles.
Alright, so we approach this cute little bike path with daddy dearest, out of breath but ever by her side. At this point, my tone is curt, and I let him know that the bike path slopes down severely toward the road and it is actually a good place to keep up with her.
This man turns over his shoulder, forehead glistening with sweat, shoulders heaving, and quips, “oh, I thought she could do it?” Here I must confess that I let go of the stroller handle to throw the proverbial bird right toward his now sweaty back.
We survived. Everyone made it home. Our sweet girl whined that she was tired, and this eternally kind man carried her on his shoulders and wheeled her bike back with his free hand. I had some moments to reflect and remind myself to chill the heck out.
As we parked the bike and stroller and tumbled into the house, I thought, what an incredible glimpse at our differing parent styles and how lucky our girl is that she gets to experience them both. Someone at home who encourages her to find her own independence and another at home that will always be there to catch her.