Ever since her fifth birthday last July, I’ve been trying to get my daughter, Alice, to ride a big girl bike.
She wouldn’t do it. She wanted to stay with the training wheels. Alice is often reticent to try things, from sharing a new idea to exploring physical activities. If I can convince her to attempt something different (soccer, monkey bars) she usually ends up loving it and excelling as well, but the first push is often hard.
When I pushed with the bike, she just resisted. She was scared. She’d seen her sister fall and scrape her knees. I think healthy risk-taking builds real self-esteem, and I want my kids to learn how to take risks. And that you can fall and get up again and all that. But I didn’t want to push too hard, making her resist even more. Every time I asked her if she wanted the training wheels off, she’d yell “NO!”
Then last Saturday night, I read her one of a pile of new books I’d collected with female protagonists to read to my kids and review on Reel Girl: Sally Jean the Bicycle Queen. Sally Jean starts out as a baby in a seat on the back of her mama’s bike, progresses to a tricycle, training wheels, a two-wheeler, and by the end of the book can build her own bike. This kid is supercool.
So on Monday, the President’s Day holiday, as we were all heading to the park, Alice asked her dad to take her training wheels off. No prompting from us. We tried to remain calm. I resisted my urge to leap up and down, clapping. Instead, I went ahead to the park with her two older sisters so they wouldn’t rush her. Alice showed up about ten minutes later on a real two wheeler, her dad holding her seat to help her balance. For the next hour, he and I took turns practicing with her until our backs couldn’t take it anymore. She looked so happy and proud afterwards, I wanted to cry.
So coincidence or heroine-influenced?
This event seriously convinced me– as if I wasn’t convinced enough already– how important it is for kids to see girls being brave and taking risks in books, movies, and toys. If you can’t see it, you can’t do it or be it. Or maybe you can, but it’s much harder. You can talk to your kid until you’re blue in the face, but if you show her, she can learn so much quicker. She sees a “peer’ doing what she wants to do, not her mom babbling on about another thing.
Thank you Cari Best for writing Sally Jean the Bicycle Queen. You influenced my daughter’s life. Reel Girl rates Sally Jean the Bicycle Queen ***GGG*** Buy this book for your sons and daughters, especially if they need a push trying out a big kid bike.
Here’s happy Alice with her happy dad.