My kid, Jack, learnt how to ride his bike this year and I was so damn proud when he finally got the hang of it. The look on his face right before he took off the first time he made it down the whole block on his own was pure determination! His little eyebrows were stitched up and his jaw was set and his eyes were steely, dead, serious. It was different than the way he had looked on his previous attempts when his face had read of fear or hesitation. In the process of learning he’d bailed a few times and ended up with a skinned knees and elbows and lots of bruises, so the fear and hesitation was understandable. But that time I remember thinking, “This time he’s ready. This time he’s going to do it.” And he did!
It brought me back to when I was about his age and learnt to ride my bicycle. We were going out to visit some family friends who lived on an acreage and the plan was to bring our bicycles and ride around with my mom’s friend’s kids. But I hadn’t got the hang of it yet! My older brother spent days taunting me and rubbing it in that I would be left behind. One night I remember lying in bed fuming and stewing and as I drifted off to sleep thinking, “Tomorrow I’m going to learn to ride my bike if it kills me!”
The next day after I got off school I rode my bike up and down the street probably 50 times. I fell a bunch of times and by the time I was through I was bleeding from both elbows and both knees but I had learnt how to ride my bike! I remember the sun slanting through the leaves of the trees and the air rushing by my arms and the pain feeling so sweet because I had accomplished what I’d set out to do.
Determination is a quality that I’ve always admired in others, have cultivated in myself and will encourage in my son. I’ve never been the most talented person or the most organized and I’ve spent most of my life making do with not a lot of resources. But I’ve always thought that I make up for what I lack with gumption. I work hard and if at first I don’t succeed I try and try again.
Since Jack has learnt to ride his bike he’s been putting in a lot of hours. He can make it up and down big hills. He’s experimenting with stopping quickly. He’ll stand up and pump his legs and get going really fast. I love to watch him as he experiments and grows stronger and builds his confidence. I also love the possibilities that it’s opened up for me. Now that he can ride his bike I can take him running with me, which is something that I could only do when he was with his dad for years! Being able to run more regularly has made a goal that I have had in the back of my mind for a few years more achievable: A half marathon!
I’m training to run the Banff Half Marathon in June of 2019. The furthest I’ve ever run is 10 km and a half marathon is 21 km, so I’ve got some work to do. I’m not daunted though! I’ve done enough living to know that if you put enough time and energy into a thing, anything is possible. I’ve been running 6 km to work once a week and back again at the end of the day. I’ve also been trying to fit in a longer run on the weekends. Over the winter the plan is to extend my route to work up to 7 km and then to 8 km and try to make my weekend runs a little bit longer each time. By the time June rolls around I’m going to be sitting pretty!
One of the greatest things about having a kid is teaching him things and watching him grow. And I am discovering that I’m growing right along with my boy. As I teach him, I’ve been trying to become more patient, more positive and more determined because I want to lead by example. As he becomes more competent and capable it also opens up my world and the possibilities available to me! In 2019 I will run a half marathon and Jack learning how to ride his bike has made that more accessible to me. Maybe in 5 years he’ll be running alongside me! Or maybe he’ll be inspiring me to work towards something bigger and better. I certainly hope so! One of the best things in life is that feeling you get when you strive and toil at something and then after all the blood, sweat and tears you achieve a goal! That’s a feeling I will always chase after and a feeling I love to share with my kid!