Last night as the shadows grew long on our quiet street, Zach reached for the brass ring and grabbed it. He rode his bike alone—no extra wheels, no dad or mom hand on the back of the seat. And I have got to tell you, the swell of pride in my heart was enormous. I think I was more thrilled for him at that moment—-with his face lighting up, doing the happy dance and saying, “I did it!”—than I have ever been (and that includes law school and passing that dastardly bar, too).
I don’t know if I have ever mentioned our very complicated parenting style, but essential it can be defined with two simple terms—threats & bribery. Chris had told the boys at the beginning of the summer that when they learned to ride their bikes without training wheels, they would be allowed to pick out a Lego toy. Hence, the bribery portion of this parenting lesson. He was ecstatic. Not that he is a ho-hum kind of kid anyway, because I can make Tuna Casserole and he will say, “Wow, Mom this is the best Tuna Casserole I have ever tasted!” And he says it with so much heart and conviction, that I don’t want to point out that it was the only Tuna Casserole he has ever tasted.
Anyway, he was so proud of himself for the actual unsupported bike flight that he had completely forgotten about the carrot that we had dangled before him for the last two months. Chris reminded him and I thought Z. might just pass out from the euphoria. The two of them drove to the store to purchase said carrot, and needless to say, he is floating somewhere over the moon, but this side of Jupiter.
My sweet Alex, on the other hand, had a much more difficult time swallowing Zach’s major accomplishment. Alex is just a little competitive (she writes, sarcastically), so seeing his older brother master the two-wheeled dragon AND drive off with Dad to purchase a new Lego……well, it was almost more than any ferociously, ambitious four-year-old should have to bear. It was a sort of learning moment (what isn’t?) because I reminded him that he would learn to ride a bike before Sam, and then Sam would be feeling just the same way. I told him he should try to remember that feeling, so he could be a little kinder to Sam when it was his turn.
Sometimes learning the skill of empathy comes painfully and slowly. Alex wants to be the best at everything RIGHT NOW. His ambition and passion will serve him well all of his life, but realizing that sometimes that drive is preceded by setbacks and disappointments that we all experience—I think that is what will make him a good and compassionate man.
Much Love to All,