Love blooms in its own time

By Mir
April 24, 2008

Things have been a tiny bit tense around here lately; I don’t suppose you’ve noticed. To say we’ve all been a little stressed out would not be inaccurate. And while I can’t speak for the kids, obviously, I know that I personally feel a lot more angst when my children are having trouble getting over a hump and I can’t seem to help them.

Both of them are struggling right now with different things. I am left feeling like what I do is never enough and that if only I could find THAT THING that would fix it all, we could all heave a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, THAT THING is completely beyond my grasp; whether because it’s imaginary or because I’m a moron, well… sometimes it’s hard to know. Nevertheless, some days life feels more like a struggle than a journey. And some days I wonder if hoping for change is foolhardy.

Here’s the thing about kids, though: They ALWAYS change. I couldn’t stop them if I tried. They have their own unfolding to do. I can try to influence the process, of course, but it’s not up to me. On good days, I can find comfort in that. On great days, maybe even strength.

We got the bicycles out yesterday, because here we are: Monkey is coming up on 8-and-a-half and he still cannot ride a bike. The difficulty started with his sensory issues (this is, after all, the same child who can leap onto the furniture, smash his nose into knee while doing so, and then angrily insist that “MY NOSE JUST STARTED HURTING!” and refuse to believe that anything—much less part of his own body—made contact with him), but at this point I’m willing to credit garden-variety fear with his inability to master it. It has become a bogeyman, that bike, and even the suggestion of working on riding must be done carefully.

Monkey can manage about fifteen minutes of work before his frustration prevents him from continuing. By the time we reached his breaking point, I had promised him a new bike as a reward for for mastering it. Heck, I’d promised Chickadee a new bike for helping him master it! (Both of their bikes are second-hand and too small, anyway, but still. Bribery much?) When he’d had enough, I praised him for trying (and his sister for helping).

I was frustrated. He was frustrated. Chickadee was moaning about how we’ll NEVER EVER get to go on a family ride and it’s NO FAIR.

Later on I went outside to water our new strawberry plants. The children are completely mesmerized—what arrived in a big box as twisted twigs have become real, live, growing plants, and they just can’t seem to wrap their little brains around how THAT became THESE.

“Mama,” asked Monkey, as he studied the two pots carefully, “How come these ones are growing so big, and then these ones are little? And how come those ones there haven’t grown at all?”

“I dunno, sweetie. They all grow when they’re supposed to. Not everything grows at the same rate.”

“But some of them are DEAD,” he said, mournfully.

“I don’t think so. I think they’re just not ready yet.”

“Buddy!” said Chickadee, deep in observation on the side of one of the pots, “No they’re not! Look over here!” And together we bent to follow her pointing finger—one of the holes sporting a “dead” plant had the tiniest glimmer of green right in its center.

Monkey was delighted, and for a little while, anyway, I had that zen sort of “all things in good time” calmness that I wish was a more permanent part of me.

I’ll just keep watering, and encouraging, and chasing the squirrels the away. The rest isn’t up to me, anyway.

April showers bring itty bitty strawberry plants.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone.


  1. All Adither

    Om…Om…Om…must keep this zenlike attitude in mind throughout my day. Thanks for the nice start.

  2. Tracey

    My son has a fear of the bike too, because of an incident last summer. I am also trying to adopt a Zen attitude, because he does lag behind other boys in some physical areas, and like you I realize it isn’t up to me. Thanks for this post to help remind me of that.

  3. Pam

    This may or may not be of help… but I could not, for the life of me, teach my son to ride his two-wheeler. We’d either end up laughing, or crying. He learned one day but asking a “big kid” (all of 10 or 12, that big kid was) to help him. Maybe just switching teachers will make it easier?

    and be careful what you wish for, b/c they go from bike riding to car driving VERY quickly!

  4. Astrogirl

    Great reminder that these bundles of joy (I swear, I am NOT being sarcastic! Well ok, maybe just a little) have their own timetable. I feel your pain – Bunker Monkey is behind his peers as well, mostly in social skills stuff (he seems to be growing out of his Asperger’s, but still struggling with it somewhat) but also because, through no fault of his own, he’s a late November baby so all the kids in his class are several months ahead of him. Which won’t be a big deal when he’s, say, 16 but at the tender age of 4.5, every month seems to make a difference.

    Anyway – know that you’re not alone in this. Every parent struggles with it at some point, I think. Stay strong and zen-like!

  5. Susan

    I love this. That’s all.

  6. E

    I, too, love this. Thank you for giving me this little bit of perspective — I needed it.

  7. Melisa

    Well said!

    We are all works in progress.

  8. dad

    When I was a kid my father owned a newspaper delivery business. The papers were delivered by kids on bicycles and since I was a budding capitalist and wanted a job, riding a bike was something I mastered early.
    My Achilles heel was swimming. It wasn’t fear of water. It was just something I couldn’t master until one summer, as a teenager, a girl I was interested in taught me how.

    It’s all a matter of incentive.
    All you can do is point Monkey in the right direction. When it’s time, he will pedal without bumping his nose.

  9. Ukey

    You’ll all praise the day of the bicycle the moment they get a drivers license…….

  10. Patricia

    I wasn’t much older than Monkey when *I* learned to ride a bike, finally and with much joy that my parents had FINALLY gifted me with their childhood passion. The problem was it was their passion and not mine. I didn’t like the pointlessness of riding around the neighborhood. Being incredibly shy, I didn’t have friends to go visit (the thought of dropping over for a visit was outrageous to me). And even if I had friends over to ride with, where would we go?
    I was an adult before I realized the need for a point and purpose to the things I learned. I would never get a math thing unless I knew where it was going, but once I could see the forest for the trees, I got it. Yes, I’m a geek — and yes, I can ride a bike.
    We just started the bike journey with our son, and I’m trying to be far more understanding as I’m not sharing some amazing childhood love or rite of passage with him. I want him to learn and if he loves it great — if not, oh well — engineering camp isn’t too expensive.

  11. Deb

    Same story in our house. We even bought bubby a brand new bike and still after about 10 minutes he is frustrated. My philosophy, he will learn at his own pace and when he is ready (now if only I can get dad to understand that). He is just so fearful of falling. But this is the same kid who is great at roller skating, go figure. I do love the suggestion above about having an older kid help out. I will try that too. Thanks.

  12. Jenn

    What about getting a tagalong bike that attaches to one of the grown-ups bikes. He can pedal in safety behind you or Otto and get used to the idea without having to figure out the balance and steering parts of it. Maybe he’ll enjoy the ride enough to want to learn.

    Also, my daughter’s ot place has these things that strap the child’s feet to the pedals so they can pedal easier. Usually the feet have to take turns pushing down and resting on the ride up. With these adapters the foot that would normally be resting can help by pulling up. Hope that explains it somewhat. They screw onto the pedal and then have velcro straps for the child’s foot. I was thinking one could hack some together using a pair of large flip-flops, some screws and some velcro.

    Best of luck. We’re hoping the allure of biking with the big kids will encourage our daughter to keep trying.

  13. Aimee

    Happy Love Thursday! And mmm… strawberries!

  14. Lucinda

    So awhile back my daughter was driving me crazy. She was rude, defiant, and generally miserable to be around. I was wondering what I had done to create such a monster, and how I would be able to put it back into the box so to say. Our children’s pastor is a wonderful lady who has often said my children remind her greatly of her own. So we talked, and she passed this on. I hope this helps.

    Trust. A conscious act of placing each child in God’s hands. With that act comes a beautiful awareness that th rough each experience–social, emotional, physical and intellectual–He is at work in their lives. He is molding them into what He would have them become. Turning even what we perceive as hurtful into His good. Turning their failures-and ours–into footsteps…footsteps toward Himself.

    I hope today you can find that trust within yourself.

  15. Karen

    Just as a reality check: Pete is a pretty good little athlete and yet he didn’t start riding without training wheels till last summer, when he was already 8. He just wasn’t ready to really give it a good try.

  16. The Mom Bomb

    This brought tears to my eyes. I SO have the same issues with my two, in so many ways.

    All in good time — that can be so much more difficult to remember in this day and age, when you have a host of doctors and teachers telling when “milestones” should occur. Don’t get me wrong — the concern is well-intentioned and some of it is very helpful. But I do find that the “goal” — at least in the public school system — is to produce a “well-rounded” “on-track” child, doing what he’s supposed to, when he’s supposed to. And sometimes that leads to kids (mine) feeling pushed when they’re not quite ready to be pushed.

  17. Mom24

    That was so beautiful. You have such a way with words.

    My DS is heading on 8 this summer and still can’t ride his bike either. I think he is also scared of it, and we have no sensory issues. This is one of the hardest hurdles we have encountered in our parenting.

  18. jennielynn

    Zen is an essential part of motherhood. I’m Baptist, not Buddhist, but trust me, I’m well aquainted with the Zen.

    FYI, Drama Queen is 13 and still cannot ride a bike. She has refused to learn, telling me, “I’m not really a sports sort of girl.” Unh.

  19. Rebecca

    I can’t tell you how good this was to read. Not because your family is stressed or that Monkey can’t ride a bike but because I feel relieved that my 6 year old isn’t alone in his plight of not riding a bike without training wheels. I need to work on that zen thing.

  20. Kira

    We Love Thurday’ed the same theme! That makes me feel a whole lot cooler than I did a few minutes ago.

  21. The Other Leanne

    The term “Late Bloomer” was coined for a reason. Several years ago I pondered how everyone had such high anxiety levels over my ability to master [bicycles/swimming/algebra/driving] at the “appropriate” age. Guess what? I can ride a bike, swim, do algebra AND trig AND geometry, and I am an excellent driver! All of the cajoling and lecturing and tears and worry were useless until my brain and body had made the right connections in my own time.
    Monkey’s time to bloom will come.

  22. paige

    Try this technique from They have the absolute best method for teaching a kid to ride a bike with minimum fuss. It is a very simple technique that worked fabulously with every kid I’ve used it with…a wide variety of sensory issues, developmental issues and just plain scared to fall.,6610,s1-4-41-15194-1,00.html

  23. Beth

    I was 10 when I finally learned how to ride a bike. One of my neighbor’s teen-aged foster kids was the one who finally got me over my block enough to learn how.

    @Jenn: any bike store will have toe clips like you’re describing — they’re the non-pro version of the shoes that clip to your pedals. I’ve had them on my bikes from the start and wouldn’t go without them! I hate to provide a product search link, but a Google search gives a great assortment of images of the different kinds (

    Good luck!

  24. Janice

    I have a ‘learning to ride a bike’ suggestion for you. My son struggled with balancing on the bike, so he would just jump off or throw himself off. We lowered the seat and took the pedals off – so he could just scoot around and learn to balance. It helped him gain confidence on the bike without having for worry about pedaling just yet. It may work for you, too! Good luck!

  25. April

    And before you know it, that frustrating day will be a memory that seems so long ago!

  26. Katie in MA

    I wish I had your knack for knowing when to let things be. I would have lectured on and on to my child about how the plants were a great analogy and when he was ready, he would grown and bloom and produce yummy strawberries, too…or perhaps just ride a bike.

    If I had a penny for every time I had to yell at myself to just shut UP already, I wouldn’t have to worry about the kids’ therapy funds. :)

  27. Katherine

    My younger son is 9 and he’s still not riding a bike. He’s been close a few times, but really has very little interest or patience with it. I’d been hoping that seeing his friends riding would spark some interest.

    Now, of course, the problem is that he has really outgrown his old bike. So, do I adjust bike seat down on his brother’s bike so he can learn on it? I’m not ready to buy a new bike if he’s not going to learn to ride… I think I’ve got myself caught in a catch-22.

  28. MomCat

    Ditto many other comments – my almost-14-year-old cannot ride a bike well. She has mild cerebral palsy, and we’ve been told it’s to be expected. I’d say keep up the gentle encouragement (and bribery) and take Chickie on a Girls’ Ride when her brother is busy.

  29. Genevieve

    Our kiddo is 8 and isn’t riding without the training wheels yet, but this year he seems motivated to do it. For the last two years, he was nervous about it, and had trouble with the training wheels moved (my husband had heard that it could be helpful to stagger them so that the child wouldn’t be relying on them, but it just made our kiddo feel uncertain).
    He claimed to be “just not a bike person” and was clearly uneasy about being seen riding with his training wheels. He’s a good athlete with no sensory issues, so this isn’t unique to kids with those issues. Somehow this year he has turned a corner in terms of wanting to do it — we’re going to take him somewhere out of the neighborhood (so he won’t feel so vulnerable to being seen by classmates who already know how) and practice.

  30. Sheila

    I love the image of children “unfolding.” Brilliant.

  31. Megan

    Very funny parallel with my life at the moment. For learning to ride bike read learning to drive; for Monkey, read Child 1, for bribery with new bike read bribery with motor scooter.

    Thanks for the perspective.

  32. annie

    OH no! That strapping the feet to the pedals thing does not sound good… That idea may help learning to PEDAL – on a bike with training wheels, but Monkey probably has THAT part down. We were working on this skill Before Internet for my difficult-to-teach daughter. I came up with something close to the method, except I didn’t take the pedals off – just told her to stick her legs out a bit while “walking,” then “running” with the bike under her. IT WORKED in less than an hour.

  33. hollygee

    Okay, don’t know if this is any help or not.
    Ya know how they say that thing about once you have ridden a bike, ya never forget how? My muscle memory may remember, but the ensuing years have done nothing for my balance and I am thinking of getting an adult tricycle just so I don’t have to deal. Anyway, in looking around on the web, I found this:

    Didn’t try it, but sound interesting.

  34. Liza

    I was 9 before I learned how to ride a bike. I was also exceptionally difficult and easily frustrated when my parents tried to teach me.

    Eventually, one of my friends decided that It Was Time and he was not going to let me limp along with this tragic flaw any longer. In 3 hours, he taught me how to ride a bike. In spite of a very serious setback in which the first time it got going fast, I drove straight into a 10 inch diameter tree and landed crotch-first on the bicycle crossbar thing and thought I was going to die.

    I never asked, and I have no idea, but it could be that my parents solicited the help of this bike-savvy neighbor. Perhaps Monkey has a friend who could help?

  35. Nancy

    My daughter is 27 and still cannot ride a bike. The attempts were just as you described – working at it until she cried, which seemed counter-intuitive as it was supposed to be fun. My son comutes to work every day on his bike. I’m not sure how they came to be such different people, but I knew my job as a mom was to respect and honor those differences, which I try to do to this day. I always said they would be using the toilet by the time they graduated from high school, so why stress over it? Your Monkey will ride if he wants to, and maybe not. You never know.

  36. carrie

    wow, i needed to read this today. i have strawberry plants of my own that i need to look for the green in.

    many thanks, mir. as always…you hit me where i live.

  37. Ramblin' Red

    Thanks for this Mir…

    We are stuggling at casa del Meyer also, and it kind of came to a head this morning when I was hollering rapid-fire demands at LMNOB from downstairs to “hurry up.” She came downstairs and screamed at me, “You’re GOING TOO FAST FOR ME!!” Being that she is my sensory kid, she was 100% right and I was being an ass. Go Mommy!

    I need to remember this:
    I’ll just keep watering, and encouraging, and chasing the squirrels the away. The rest isn’t up to me, anyway.

  38. mike golch

    I can relate to Monkey in so many ways it is not funny,I had trouble learning to ride my bicycle as well and that I can only do something for so long that frustration sets in.I feel that way about trying to relearn how to play my dulicmer again. Not to mention my transposing letters and the trouble spelling things right.He may have some problems that will just be lived with as I have done. The bad part is I turned 56 this year.

  39. Daisy

    Is it a balance problem? We bought a recumbent three-wheeler — a BIG bike and very cool bike — for Amigo. He doesn’t have enough vision or enough balance to ride a two-wheeler.

  40. Sue

    wow. just wow.

  41. wendy

    I learned to ride a bike in first grade and rode everywhere I could until I was old enough to drive a car. My son has never had the same interest in it that I did. We tried and failed off and on until 5th grade when he finally learned at the insistence of his grandparents who couldn’t get that he loved roller blading and had little interest in a bike. Even now though, bike riding is just an occasional thing. He’d much rather go for a run than hop on a bike.

  42. carolyn

    I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was almost 10, after my parents bought me a new (“bribe”) bike and forbid my younger sister from carrying me around on the back of her bike. I recall being the only kid in the neighborhood who couldn’t ride a two-wheeler, but I don’t remember feeling bad about it. One day, I just hopped on and took off. I was (and still am, apparently) a late bloomer.

  43. Dani

    Oh, I wish I was one of those bloggy people that could give you an award for this post.

    Simply put, this post is… The Best.

  44. mamaspeak

    Janice: that’s how Dutch kids learn to ride bikes. We learned that on Sesame Street (and I thought it was just my kids getting all the good stuff from that show.)

    We recently started the no training wheels thing w/my soon to be 5YO. A neighbor clued us in to using a smaller bike then what they normally use so their center of gravity is lower and so they can catch themselves w/their feet and learn to balance. She’s not scared to fall this way & we’re making progress. I found a small bike for $5 at a garage sale last year just for this purpose. ;-)

    My nephew (11) didn’t learn to ride w/out training wheels until after age 8, my parents (his g’parents) finally taught him. Kids don’t just “go out to play” anymore, so the “practice” part of this has to be supervised, which can be hard w/everyone’s schedules. I think it’s not uncommon for kids to learn this skill much later than back in the day. I think the tag-along suggestion is great. We rented one on vacation last year & the kids loved it! You could rent one from a local bike shop to see how you all do & if you want to invest in one (they’re pricey & hard to find used.)

  45. Stephanie Jackson

    I found your blog thru Mom Blogs.. Yes, Sometimes it just takes longer for certain things for kids.. I just wish my kid would get the hang of
    Have a great weekend!

  46. pam

    I’ve been checking all day. I need my Mir.

  47. Rae

    Mmm… such good insight. And how good those strawberries will taste this summer!

  48. Kris

    But he’s an Aspie, right? Or at least is on the spectrum in some way, shape or form. That’s totally normal for him not to be able to ride a bike. I felt the same way and I swear just two days ago Bug started to ride her two wheeler without training wheels. (I told her if she couldn’t do it this year, she couldn’t go to camp and she REALLY wants to go. I’m a big, fat meanie! She’ll be eight in about a month and a half and she’ll *just* make the age requirement for this camp, and it was the motivation she needed. )

    I keep thinking she should be able to do this, and be able to do that, but then I have to remind myself that she doesn’t always know where her body parts are and we kind of take that for granted.

    Give him some time. I’m sure he’ll get it in his own time. ((HUGS))

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