Wednesday, August 7, 2013

On Pushing Your Kids

One of the challenges of being a parent is knowing how far and how hard to push your kids. Well, that's one of my big challenges anyway. 

Our daughter Hannah has been a little slow picking up her bike riding. I've gotten her out a couple of times back home in Stratford, but we've done most of our family riding with her on a Trail-a-Bike attachment, and as a result, she hasn't been real confident balancing on her own, and she hasn't had to worry about learning to brake or climb out of the saddle.  Still, she made some progress earlier in the summer, so we brought the bikes--hers included--out on vacation. And we took those bikes into Acadia yesterday. 

The problem is, Acadia's not really very flat. And Hannah's little bike doesn't have any gears, and she's not very comfortable using either the little hand brake that it has or the coaster brakes. So going down the first long descent yesterday was a real challenge, and after that, poor Hannah had to slog her way back up about two miles of climbing--gaining maybe six hundred feet--all on a heavy steel-framed kiddo bike. She did it, but it was a real challenge, and by the time we got to the top of the climb, she was well and truly exhausted. 

We should have walked back down. 

But. She's been doing so well, and in fact she'd just said, "Y'know, Dad, sometimes if you want to get better at something, you really do have to get pushed outside of your comfort zone."  And added to that, after all that work, I know she was looking forward to coasting down the hill.  So we let her do it, and I trailed behind her, ostensibly to talk her around the turns and help her control her speed. 

What happened, unfortunately, is that she got going too fast way too quickly, and so when she tried to brake she couldn't slow herself down, and of course, from behind her, what could I do?  She very quickly lost control, fell, and went face-first into a rock. And honestly, thank God for that rock, or she'd have been launched off the side of the trail and into the woods below. 

Ultimately, she was lucky. She got a pretty nasty scrape on her arm--for which we wound up taking her to the Emergency Room in Bar Harbor--and she cut her chin up pretty good, and she's got some bruises, but really, she's fine. No concussion, no broken bones; no harm, no foul. Her bike's a twisted mess, and I'll probably replace her helmet before I let her ride again, but all in all, I could have been so much worse. 

Intellectually, I know that falling off your bike is part of growing up, that you can't grow up right without taking a few bumps and bruises along the way. And yeah, nobody wants to wind up in the Emergency Room on vacation, but bottom line, we were there for two hours, and it wasn't nearly the disaster that it could have been. Still, that was a pretty good little scare yesterday, a reminder that this active lifestyle we're trying to teach our kids comes with a few real risks. And if the risks are outweighed by the rewards, they are still real, and you still have to be prepared for them. 

Needless to say, our car's first aid kit got a little overhaul yesterday afternoon. 

Today we're going to do some easy hiking and a little miniature golf, but hopefully we'll be back on the adventure trail before the week is up. 


  1. Good story. I can relate. However, I have opposite problem and/or different challenge. My 22 year old daughter does triathlon and my husband just walks the dog. My son is addicted to World of Warcraft! I'm somewhere in the middle. Cardio 5-6X/week and strength 2-3x/week.

    Thanks for motivating me to keep on encouraging my family.

    1. It sounds like you're doing okay. I mean, one hopes that your son's addiction to WOW is temporary, but what are you gonna do? Presumably, he's old enough to make his own decisions, and after that, I think the die is cast.