The sun shone brilliantly as its rays danced warmly across our skin.
A soft breeze gently blew the fresh fragrance of fully bloomed flowers our way, bringing the delightful scent to our attention. The hum of children joyfully playing caressed our ears, evidence of the happiness around us.
We looked lovingly at each other as Champion eagerly awaited his turn, excitement mounting in us all as his opportunity to fulfill this childhood dream danced before us. The excitement in the air crescendoed as it became his turn.
We watched eagerly, wrought with anticipation as Champion gripped the handlebars and took off pedaling, joy radiating from his face as he deftly maneuvered around obstacles, peals of laughter coming from him and all of us as we watched him in triumph.
Here’s what really happened.
This past Saturday we had the awesome opportunity to have Champion try out an adaptive bike. We had heard that another family had put together an event for families to come demo bikes.
I thought, “How awesome, that sounds like a lot of fun”.
Normally I would have said no since it was last minute but since I’m working on throwing off discouragement and getting out and about more, and since we recently decluttered and organized, making getting out and about easier, I eagerly called and set up a time for us to stop by and have Champion give a bike a try.
We woke up early that morning, took Champion to an appointment to get his braces adjusted and then headed to the park for the event. We had a great time interacting with and meeting some amazing families as we waited for Champion’s turn.
We were already brainstorming how we could creatively finance the purchase of one of the bikes because we just knew he was going to love it.
Finally his turn came and we eagerly set him on the bike, anticipating the fun he was going to have riding around.
He instantly started crying.
And not just whimpering a little bit, but full on crocodile tears with screams overpowering the sound of kids playing in the playground next to us.
My husband and I started clapping for him and cheering him on, telling him he could do it, that it was fun. The other parents took their cue from us and cheered him on too.
We tried him on three different bikes all with the same reaction.
We tried with braces and without braces. We tried pushing him from behind, forcing his legs to pedal. We held his hands to the handle bars with our hands over his, forcing him to hold on. We used styrofoam between his legs, forcing them open thinking that would make him more comfortable.
And then finally, we stopped.
It dawned on us that this was something that was supposed to be fun for him, something we wanted him to enjoy, and he clearly wasn’t and he was trying to let us know but we weren’t listening.
We’ve grown so accustomed to forcing him to do things from years of therapy that we had trouble recognizing that we were trying to force him to enjoy something that he just wasn’t.
We took him off the bike and let the vendor know we weren’t interested at this time. We left with a quote and the knowledge that he was actually a couple of inches to small for even the smallest of the bikes so it wouldn’t have worked anyway.
But we also left with the knowledge that we really need to learn to listen to Champion.
We were projecting onto him what would be enjoyable for us as parents to watch him do, and not taking into account how challenging it would be for him. Because of course what child doesn’t enjoy riding a bike? Never mind the fact this was his first time ever even seeing one.
We were so busy trying to make the experience like the scene at the beginning of this post that it took awhile for us to grasp the fact that reality just wasn’t lining up with our vision and that that was okay. And that us trying to make it that way wasn’t the way to go.
So for now we’re holding off on the adaptive bike. Its definitely something we want to explore for him in the future when he’s the right size and when he shows an interest in it.
But for now we learned a good lesson and we’re going to work on finding recreational activities that he enjoys and looks forward to doing.
I think he thinks that’s a good idea.
Let’s Talk: Any similar situations? How do you handle it when reality doesn’t line up with your vision of something?