All winter long I begged, bribed and coerced my children into skiing with me. It’s not that they don’t like it. While out on the slopes both Big E and Little G have a great time – laughing, chatting, and racing down the hill. But the fight to get them to the lift is awful. You’d think I was asking them to spend two hours poking themselves in the eye. It’s skiing – fun, exhilarating, joyful.
Now that Spring is upon us and the slopes are riddled with dirt spots I’ve given up the fight and moved on to the next outdoor activity. Biking.
I’m starting slow. Little g has a balance bike that she refused to ride all last year. I’ve taken it on our favorite local trail twice now. She refused to ride it both times. Big E is still on training wheels. I haven’t taken them off yet this season, but when I suggested he borrow a friend’s balance bike instead he locked himself in the car and refused to go on the trail with us.
Both Big E and Little G have said they don’t like feeling “wobbly” on the bike. I have attempted to explain that practice makes the wobbly feeling go away. But it seems like they don’t trust me where new sports are concerned.
I get it. Trying new things is scary, especially if there’s potential for self injury. But learning to ride a bike has the potential to add so much joy to their lives! I remember begging my parents to teach me to ride without training wheels and feeling so proud when I figured out how it all worked. I want that for my kids. Bike riding is not only fun, it’s a life skill.
Again I am faced with a dilemma. Just like with skiing, my children say they don’t like something, but I know they will have fun if they attempt it with an open mind. How much do I push it? How can I change my approach? Do I emphasize what a privilege it is to ride a bike? How lucky they are for the opportunity? Or do I accept the fact that my kids view bike riding as a chore and put it on their chore charts in the same category as Piano Practice?
One challenge of living near Sundance Mountain Resort is that middle word – Mountain. We live on a slope that would be deadly for a new bike rider, so anytime we want to practice riding we have to go somewhere flat and paved. It becomes an ordeal. Pumping up tires, loading bikes, finding helmets, driving, unloading, arguing, finally getting on the trail.
I want my kids to learn to ride, but not only that, I want them to work at something that’s tough. I want them to get up when they fall. Keep trying. Don’t quit. Have a good attitude even when it’s hard. If they can learn those lessons now, how much easier will their life be?
I don’t have a good answer for my question of how to make bike riding fun. I know I’ll try a few things.
- Have special one-on-one bike outings with each of them.
- Bring Mountain Dad in for support.
- Talk about biking with a positive attitude.
- Set a family goal.
- Find them friends to bike with.
Maybe some of these things will help turn the tide from constant complaint to reluctant enthusiasm. Hopefully before spring ends I will hear them say something like this.
“Sure Mom, we’d love to go on a bike ride with you.” That’d be a dream come true.