Monday, July 7, 2014

Life ... Not A One Way Street

This weekend for the very first time I went on a Bike Ride with my daughter. Well, it was technically a Bike Walk since she rode a bike and I walked beside her. She rode rather fast too so it was nearly a Bike Run since I had to keep moving at a pretty good clip. But it was pure fun. She chattered along the whole ride (surprise), grinning as her blond hair whipped behind her in the breeze. And I grinned too.

I suppose I should preface this accomplishment a bit. You see my daughter hadn’t mastered either the training wheel aspect of the bike or the two wheeler skill. She wanted nothing to do with a bicycle since she tumbled off her own nearly 4 years ago. She didn’t like the brakes and had difficulty getting moving on her own. The entire experience just discouraged her. She was seriously afraid of her bike. The very thought or discussion about said Bike would result  in “drama,” complete with tears and her storming off.

Since I bought it when she was 4 ½, her Tinkerbell bike is way too small anyway. It teeters/totters dangerously every time she goes out with those plastic training wheels still on. Her brother worked with her over spring break. We have even had a friend work with her. She rode two blocks once ... but it was a process. So I had pretty much resigned myself to a trip to garage sales in search of a new used bike that might be the right size and that might give her confidence and get her to try again. But, she stubbornly announced one night at dinner that she would never ride a bike. Nothing I could do would change her mind.

But this past weekend took care of that.

Now, my son would tell you that she really didn’t master a bike this past weekend at all. She rode her Meema’s full-size 3 wheel bike, complete with a large basket on the back to conveniently hold her books, dolls, toys, groceries and the dog she insists I’m going to get her one of these days. But watching her ride an adult sized bike much too big for her with such amazing joy and confidence was a thrill to me … she was finally riding all by herself and unafraid.  She couldn’t get enough.  We were out twice a day! She peddled, she braked, she turned, she rode alone down the street while I watched. And the one time she took a turn too fast and fell was no big deal. She got right back on and started peddling, the scrape on her knee dismissed. 

So it was a 3-wheel bike. The little girl scared of her own bicycle mastered a grown up contraption in less than 3 minutes. 

My daughter is stubborn, yes. But she is passionate and fearless once she decides to do something. (She's a lot like me.) So, she has decided that a full size 3-wheel bicycle is THE answer to her previous struggles. And she is determined to have one and ride to her heart’s content. I hinted that perhaps her newfound confidence might imply that she could at least Try a 2-wheeler. To my initial chagrin, she dismissed the idea on the spot.  But .... 

My daughter – in her nine-year-old wisdom – explained to me that not everyone does things the same way. That though her way might be different, that didn’t make it wrong. That her way was okay too.

Wow. Pretty cool.

My daughter recognized at a young age something that a lot of grown-ups I know still struggle with. She understands that being different isn’t bad. That there isn’t one way to do something. And that choosing to march to the beat of her own drum is not only okay but empowering.

I hope she can still embrace this idea whenever Peer Pressure rears its ugly head ….

At any rate, she’s right. What’s right for you, might not be right for me. Life is full of choices and we make them uniquely. There is no one right way to do anything. Instead, there are lots of wonderful options and choices. I honor what you choose. I hope you’ll honor mine. And if not, feel free to express your opinions but don’t be offended if I choose to continue my momentum or if I don’t leap to dance to the rhythm of your Pied Piper.

It’s okay to be different. Life isn’t a one-way street. In today's society, that should be easy to embrace. But it's not. I tell my kids -- and write in my blogs -- to not only honor but celebrate your "you-ness" ... to nurture your individuality, creative spark, unique perspectives, interests, feelings, thoughts, ideas and imagination. Oh the Places You'll Go if you Let your true colors shine through. Here and now I speak my truth .... Don’t be afraid if the colors of your life aren’t the same as someone else’s. That won’t make them any less beautiful.

As my daughter eloquently reminded me, there isn’t just one way to accomplish or look at something or someone. Our uniqueness makes us who we are. We possess the freedom to maintain our individuality. And that makes each of us dynamic and exciting.  

So ride whatever bike you choose. That's my Declaration of Independence this July. And when you're out there, listen for my daughter’s laughter on the wind …
                                                                                                                            -- Jenni