Bike-riding lessons

There are just some things that are hard to teach young children: how to hold a pencil correctly, how to tie their shoes, how to make their beds, adequate basic hygiene like teeth brushing that brushes all of the teeth and showering that cleans all of the parts. And then there’s teaching your kid how to ride a bike. It involves balance and concentration and patience from them and running alongside a bike from me, so the whole experience presents a variety of problems.


I’ve been working with our youngest to get him solo-ready for a couple of years. I’ll admit I haven’t always suggested it as often as I should have. Call it busy family or lazy mom or the usual predicament of the 4thkid, it just hasn’t been a priority. It hasn’t helped that he’s been reluctant to ride. Naturally athletic by nature, he’s used to being able to conquer physical activities pretty easily the first time, but this bike thing has been a different story.


So when we had that beautiful sunny Sunday last week, it occurred to me to pull out his bike and get him back in the saddle. After we filled up the low tires, he hopped on. Up and down the driveway we went—him pedaling erratically and swerving like a maniac and me jogging while grabbing a wadded-up bunch of the back of his shirt.


Not long into the lesson, he said, “Is it okay if I sing a song? It will help me focus.”


“Sure,” I panted.


“Keep on trying. Don’t give up,” he sang in a made-up tune. “Never give up. Just don’t give up.”


We continued until I felt he was correcting his balance issues—going a little to the left if he was too much to the right. Then I slowly let go of his shirt. He rode a few yards by himself until he veered off-road into some grass.


“I did it!” he cheered. He hopped off the bike and ran to me in joyful triumph. “I rode my bike!”


We hugged and walked back to his bike for him to mount and try again. “I just kept remembering something important that I hear a lot,” he told me, full of introspection and wisdom from his hard won victory.


“What was that?” I asked him, assuming he’d repeat some sage advice I’d given him.


“You never give up,” he said, proudly.


“That’s right,” I answered. “And where did you hear that?”


“Ricky says it to Lucy all of the time because she’s always trying to get in show business. And he’s right, she never gives up so she got her own TV show.”


I realized he was referring to I Love Lucy, not the careful parenting of his mom and dad. But if it helped him remember to keep trying, even when things seem impossible, then I’m okay with that, especially if it means I can stop running alongside his bike.

Ezra in action

Greatest Love

I love my 4 kids. I really do. I think they’re charming and delightful. I thoroughly enjoy their adorable personalities and unique quirks. They are precious gifts from the Lord. Seriously. I really mean it.


But sometimes when I see it’s minutes away from the appointed time for them to come home from school, I wish I could buy another hour and turn the clock back a bit.


It’s not that I don’t like having them around (see “I love my 4 kids” paragraph above). It’s just that I may be on a roll, getting things done and I see that the school day is nearly over and I realize I need to “Mom” again.


When my kids first arrive home after a long day at school—that witching hour when everyone is hungry and grouchy and tired and stressed out at the same time—I have to divide myself into pieces so that I can feel and suffer and care along with them and take on a little of their struggles.


If one kid is having trouble learning his sight words, then it becomes my trouble, too.

If another kid is having problems with friends, then it becomes my problem, too.


Now, there is a line to be drawn when it comes to involvement with your kids. It is possible for me to take on my kids’ problems to the extent that I impair their ability to problem-solve and strategize. But loving someone means sometimes setting aside our own interests and agenda to focus on another’s. At my house, it means caring about which team is going to win the European soccer championship title and who’s going to prom with whom and listening to highly detailed stories about lunchroom hijinks.


I’m reminded of Jesus’ instructions to his disciples in John 15. He’s trying to explain to them how much he loves them. It’s a tall task because His love for them is so enormous. Then he turns this discussion of love distribution over to his followers. He says, “I demand that you love each other as much as I love you.”


Well, that sounds impossible! We know what Jesus does next in the story. He dies a gruesome death on the cross. How can we be expected to love in that way? Jesus goes on to say, “And here is how to measure it—the greatest love is shown when a person lays down his life for his friends.” (TLB)


I don’t know about you, but I don’t get a lot of opportunities to die for the people I love. So how do I obey this seemingly impossible command? Jesus tells his disciples to love each other in an extraordinary, life-giving, missional, selfless way. He asks that we show love in proportion to the degree He showed love to us, to pursue others with heaps of abundant grace and often undeserved kindness.


If given the opportunity, I would lay down my life for the 4 knuckle-heads who call me Mom. Assuming that situation doesn’t ever materialize, I will try to lay down the time and attention I’d rather devote to other pursuits and focus on them, so I can show them a great love.