Clinging to the towel

And related to the last post is…

Dealing with the fact that sometimes the line of ability is self-imposed.

Particular example: Bikes.

My daughter had a small bike with training wheels for several years. Either 14 or 16 inch wheels… not a regular sized kids bike.

She had absolutely no trouble at all with the training wheels, and overcame issues with understanding the pedals and that backwards was the brakes. She rode that thing back and forth and back and forth and was getting really fast on it.

But, of course she outgrew it. I kept raising seat and moving handlebars forward until we met the limits of how far it could go, and she still rode it until her knees just could not manage anymore.

So, 3 years ago, she got a new bike for Easter. (Because it makes no sense to give her one in the middle of winter around here when she can’t ride it till spring anyway).

20 inch wheels, normal sized kid bike, similar in styles to my bike, very pretty. With the seat at the lowest setting it fit her perfectly, but with lots of space on higher settings to grow.

For the first day, in excitement, she rode it pretty well.

And then promptly lost all ability to ride a bike with training wheels.

She did regain it once… because she wanted to take her bike to an event thing that I refused to let her take it unless she could ride it.

And again once last year when she wanted to take it to a nearby track where my mom was going on a walk.

But every other time… it turns into this huge “I can’t” drama struggle.

She lunges hard to one side enough to almost intentionally flip the bike on it’s side, then yells “See?!?”. She can’t figure out how to get the pedals to work, and can’t help accidentally hitting them backwards to hit the brakes. She gets mad and gets off and kicks it.

When she does get it moving, she’ll throw her weight back and forth from one side to the other really hard, so that it jars very hard against one training wheel and then the other. So then, they either come loose and have to be re-tightened, or the metal bends because they aren’t meant for that kind of abuse from a 65 pound kid on a full sized bike. We’ve now gone through 4 sets of them. They make heavy duty ones… but they cost more than I paid for the bike, and are designed as more of a permanent thing, not a training thing.

Logic goes nowhere. Trying to help goes nowhere. Trying to show her that she can actually do it goes nowhere.

Trying to skip the wheels and go directly to learning to balance without them just makes things worse, even the “remove the pedals” style balance training done back on the smaller bike. And, she does have a 2 wheel scooter that she loves and has done wonderful with for years, so inability to balance doesn’t seem to be the issue there either.

So as my friend’s 5 year old rides without training wheels, and so does the kindergartener down the street, and every other kid I see anywhere near her age even within about 3 years younger…. my kid can’t manage to ride her bike even _with_ the extra wheels!

And so, of course this drives me bonkers. Because I know that she can ride this bike with no issues. She’d had no problems with these exact same things on the smaller bike, and she’s successfully done ok with this bike when she’s been motivated to want to.

I know that the problem is not physical capability, as she claims each time.

But it’s hard for me to accept that she may not be mentally or emotionally capable.

What specifically the exact hang-up is, I’m not sure.

But for whatever reason, the physical ability and the mental or emotional ability are not on the same level right now. She can do it physically easily, but she can’t manage it at this point mentally.

And somehow this is a lot harder to accept than a physical limitation would be.

While googling for stronger training wheel options, I came across a “camp” that they run across the nation, including one week here in town. Where they specifically work with special needs kids on learning to ride a bike independently, with a really high success rate within the week of classes a bit more than an hour a day.

I went to read more about it, hoping to get ideas. Instead, I found myself really surprised… because with their definitions of disabilities and kiddo’s official label now, she actually qualifies. It was even specifically listed on their facebook page. She also qualifies on their ages, sort of reinforcing what I already knew on the fact that she should be able to do this by now.

I was a bit shocked.

As I saw these videos of kids learning to ride, most seemed more along the lines of down syndrome or autism… so much more severely impaired.

Even though when she was younger she did score within a point of where they would consider aspergers to start… it was just totally not on my radar to even think of making a comparison to my kid and think that her bike issues might be along those lines. It’s just not where my mental vision was.

But more and more as I’ve seen little pieces come into the picture and turn out to be related to each other… the more I’m not sure that vision actually matches the reality.

And I’m not sure if that’s just because its such a grey area… or if I need to come to better acceptance of exactly how far reaching the issues really can be and check my expectations a bit in areas where I know there is no physical capability issue and so may be jumping a bit on assuming that it’s a clear case of not wanting to try something if it’s not easy.

But of course the other logical side comes in wondering where the line is between mental and emotional issues being allowed for and given space to settle, vs allowing easy “can’t” excuses to run rampant so that she never reaches and realizes that she actually can if she put the effort into trying.

When do you drop the towel, and when do you keep clinging to the thread?

I think with the bike I’m going to just completely drop it for now, and if she hasn’t grown past the issue block by next summer consider the camp.

But I’m sure it’s nowhere near the end of the murky waters of judging questions of internal capability issues vs comfort zone and desire level.

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