Thursday, April 28, 2011

The only thing we have to fear.....

Fear is the largest obstacle anyone ever had to conquer in their lives.  Fear prevents otherwise normal people from fulfilling their dreams.  It forces us to do the things that we don't want to do.  Humans are afraid of things that have the potential to cause us great physical/emotional/mental/relational/vocational/spiritual/economical/biological (pretty much any word that ends in'-al') harm.

Some of the things that, even as an adult, I'm afraid of and have yet to conquor: large-ish spiders, making phone calls, going somewhere new and talking to people that I've never met (and acting like I'm not scared).

For persons who aren't afraid of these things, those particular fears seem irrational and almost endearing (or stupid, take your pick).  But for myself, the fear is quite palpable.

I was reminded of this idea last weekend when Husband and I took our children to the playground for the express purpose of teaching the boys (ages six and seven) to ride their bikes without training wheels.

We have been encouraging them to learn this since the previous summer but our success was limited to nonexistent.  Training wheels, to them, meant that they could take no action and still be safe.  You can't even fall down when standing still when one has training wheels - what's not to love?!

But Husband refused to put the training wheels back on the bikes at the end of our camping trip last August and so the bikes have slumped against the back wall of the garage since then, much to the chagrin of our boys who have begged for the training wheels back.

But last week when a neighbor girl came over to play she showed off her cycling skills on her two wheeler and Boy Two suddenly didn't want to be the pathetic neighbor boy who couldn't do what a girl six months younger than him can handle.  Peer pressure has its positive side.

There is a large, fenced blacktop at the elementary school and we walked the boys there with their bikes with the attitude of "you're going to learn this if it kills you."  Which, in hindsight, is not the best motivator for a child who is under the impression that it really will kill them.

Some of the advice we gave them (as we held on to their bicycle seats and ran in circles) must have sounded slightly ludicrous: "Pedal faster!  You'll have less a chance of falling over."  "Don't go straight, turn; its easier to balance when you're not going in a straight line."  "Don't look at the ground, look ahead to where you're going."  "Don't laugh at Grandad's jokes, it just encourages him."

Not all the advice was specifically tailored to bike riding, but you have to slip it in when you can.

By the time we had been there for an hour Boy Two had stopped trembling with fear and was riding without help!  And once Boy One realized that Boy Two was besting him at something he tried harder and realized that he could do it, too.  Success!

Once they both realized that they didn't have to be afraid of the bikes, that fear was the only thing keeping them from doing what they wanted, they were never more confidant!

Yes, Girl really does take that Dolly everywhere with her.
 Overcoming the fear of learning to ride was such a big obstacle that we took all the kids out for ice cream to celebrate.

And yes, that is me in the mirror, taking a picture of myself.  I have zero talent for photography.

1 comment:

  1. Yay for learning how to ride a bike! And I love that your daughter is wearing a princess dress. I hope mine do the same someday. Also I totally feel your pain with your fear of making phone calls and going to a place with people you don't know. I would also have to add heights to the list though. Irrational? Maybe, but it doesn't make it any less real.