I don’t know if it’s because I tend toward the depressive, or if it’s just a human thing, but there’s a moment early in most projects when I feel pretty sure it won’t be worth it.
Today it was getting the bike racks on the car, and the bikes onto those, the kids into the car, the car on the road, and it seemed doubtful that any amount of biking would make up for the preparation. When Jaden shouted “stop the car!” after 8 blocks, and there was in fact a bike dangling at a 90 degree angle to the road, the chances for disaster seemed good. At the least a poor return on investment.
But just as part of me is often ready to give up, part of me is not going to be dissuaded from going forward. Now that I’ve put all this effort into it, we’re going biking if it kills us! I’m afraid that on my worst days I’d force my family to endure an unpleasant excursion just to make up for having had to get it all together.
There were reasons for concern. Jaden had only ridden his bike without training wheels for very, very short bits, measurable in yards, and only on smooth playground blacktop. “I want my training wheels,” he kept saying, as we drove on, the bikes somewhat more firmly affixed to the roof, though on surface streets instead of the freeway, just in case. And there was every possibility Shayla and Jay would turn against me in this too; when it’s a winning activity everyone thought of it, but the disasters are usually one person’s fault, and as the central planner that role often falls to me.
Yet something in me felt this was the time. The sky was a perfect blue, and across the bay fighter jets are putting on their annual show. If Jaden could bike a mile or two down the Bay Trail, lunch awaited. He’s been scootering and skateboarding and working on his balance. Baby birds pushed out of the nest, all that.
The first few falls made me nervous, but I probably don’t have to tell you that he did, in fact, start riding his bike. After 20 or 30 yards he’d start looking around or wobbling, his tires suddenly in the weeds. But again and again, he got back on, tried to figure out which way was “forward” on the petals (back is the brake on his bike), and he’d take off. I couldn’t believe my scheme worked! But it worked: Jaden rode, and rode, and rode his bike.
Year 5 is really an amazing year on the planet. So much is changing, so fast. He’s wanting to sound out words and signs, he wants to skateboard. He jumped into the deep end of Uncle Kenny’s pool and swam!
So I have to be sure to keep getting over the hump of my own doubts and worries. Even after the exhilaration of seeing my youngest truly ride a bike for the first time, while unloading the bikes, the racks, all the crap for a brief afternoon outing, I found myself thinking, “ugh, is this worth it?” Fortunately, a sane clear voice responded right away. You bet it’s worth it.