Last week’s task in the job-jar was a simple one: tune up my mountain bike. When we lived in Toronto, in our life without cars and kids, I rode it all the time, challenging myself to log 20 commuting miles a day. Now that we are living in the suburbs, as active as we are, my mountain bike has been neglected. This summer, though, feeling commitment-free, I decided that it was time to clean off the dust that had settled on its handlebars and spend some active time with my 9 year old.
Tuesday was our first ride. I got dressed – cycling shorts, jersey, gloves, helmet and sunglasses. “Mom! You need to go change. You can’t wear that!” When I asked why I couldn’t wear my cycling gear (after all, we were cycling), his response was simple. “You look too bikey.”
“Too bikey.” Wow. That was definitely a new one. After much discussion and a huge sigh, I reappeared in my jean shorts and t-shirt, not quite as excited as I was before. “Okay, that’s better. But do you need to wear gloves?” “Yes,” I insisted. “I’m older and my hands get numb if I don’t.” This time, I won.
The two of us headed out for what I expected to be a 10K ride. We got as far as his school when he was ready to turn back. “Really, that took all of 3 minutes?” “But, Mom, I’m just getting started. I don’t want to do too much too soon. I have to get use to it.” After some more negotiating and agreeing on riding an extra kilometre, we arrived at our driveway in what seemed like minutes later. My son was feeling quite accomplished; he had gone out for a bike ride with his mom. Me, I was feeling a huge let-down; we rode just under 3K.
Before we got inside, though, I realized out great that ride was. Yes, we only rode 3K… but we rode 3K together- and without stopping. That was our starting point. I realized that this was not about me; it was about teaching my son to ride his bike -for his fitness, for our pleasure, and to teach him the rules of the road. I needed to build on his success and find a way to motivate him. “Next time,” I said as we went inside, “let’s try to go a little bit further. Let’s ride a little bit longer every time we go out.”
This morning, my 9 year old rushed into the kitchen. “Mom! When are we going for our bike ride?” Today, there were no negotiations; I knew what to wear. And guess what? We rode 5K!