A young girl riding her bike


Not Everything Will Come Naturally To Kids, So Can We Stop Being So Worried?

Apr 26, 2021

A couple of weeks ago, my 12-year-old daughter finally got on a bike and rode it around the local schoolyard.


It only took 45 minutes of practicing with her best friend helping her to learn the basics and she was off! Only 45 minutes after YEARS of me being frustrated every spring over the fact that she did not want to learn and would not get on a bike. Seasonal cajoling and dropping hints, even the offering of “incentives”... all to no avail.

I knew she would be missing out if she didn’t learn to ride; that her friend would be spending her summer months biking around the neighbourhood parks and trails and Nikki would be left behind. I have great memories of riding as a kid. It was freedom to roam without parents around —the ability to explore a wider world around me. But no amount of encouragement on my part made a difference: she was adamant. No bike.

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I could never quite get out of her why she didn’t want to learn, but I can guess. She is very easily embarrassed when things don't work out. Many kids feel this way, but Nikki takes it to next-level drama. Example? In Grade 5, she tripped on a desk leg and fell in front of some of her classmates and was so mortified, she refused to go to school the next day. Of course, none of them were talking about her or the trip and fall by then — they’d moved on to the juicier gossip of who was “in love” with whom. But in her mind, her faux pas was tantamount to walking into class without her pants on.

"She has always done things in her own time, and no amount of pushing on my part, or that of any other adult, made the slightest bit of difference."

It’s always been this way with my daughter — from potty training and reading to things as seemingly mundane as walking home from school by herself. She has always done things in her own time, and no amount of pushing on my part, or that of any other adult, made the slightest bit of difference. For all I know, it might have made things worse.

Thank goodness that 12-year-old best friends have special super powers. Peer pressure is a strong inducement and Nikki’s best friend had lamented more than once on how much fun they could have this summer, riding all day, if only she would learn.

So going back to a couple of weeks ago, I got a call from the girls begging me to come to the school playground because they “had something to show me!" They were all giggles, with glee in their voices. I had a hunch about what they were up to but nothing prepared me for how joyful I felt when I got to the school. I watched my daughter come around the corner, riding her friend’s bike, and I teared up. I honestly never thought I’d see the day.

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Now a few weeks later, and with Nikki feeling more and more confident on two wheels, they’re off zooming around the neighbourhood at every opportunity. They’re free to explore and have outdoor fun — even during a pandemic — and I’m thrilled for her. It’s hard to believe she’s the same kid who wouldn’t even get near a bike.

During these times, I’ve read and heard about the fears parents have: the fear of their kids falling behind, missing out or losing part of their childhood to this awful pandemic. These are completely legitimate concerns, but thanks to my daughter, I’m learning to temper that kind of thinking. Yes, she’s missing out on some things like sleepovers and outings, travelling and theatres. But I wonder if she and her friend — who lives around the corner but goes to a different school — would have ever reconnected and whether she would have ever learned to ride, if it had not been for these strange times.

Nikki has taught me that it’s best for both of us if I let go of the notion that I can force her to do something she’s not ready for and instead, I need to exercise some patience and go with the flow. That’s probably good advice for all of us, these days.

Article Author Chantal Saville
Chantal Saville

Read more from Chantal here.

Chantal Saville is, among other things, the chief wordsmith at Content Ghost. When not writing in her phantasmagorical voice, she is also a mother and a daughter. Usually in that order. Sometimes not.

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