Deciding to do something he's always wanted to do all by himself. That's it. And this spring that thing--at least for Carter--is learning how to ride a bike.
Now, I know many of you sisters out there have kids who've been bike riding since they were four. And there are some of you out there (cough cough Kristen) who have two year olds who can bike that trike forwards and backwards, downstairs and across the yard in the blink of an eye. But I swear all of your early bird bike riders have nothing on the bliss of a very scared seven year old who finally decided he had the courage to try to learn to ride his bike, practically by himself, one bright Saturday morning.
For the last couple years Carter has been happy to stand on the sidelines while the neighborhood kids tackled various childhood tasks with happiness and abandon. All the coaxing in the world couldn't convince Carter it was worth the risk to try anything new--an after school club, a green bean, a swimming class. And don't even think about insisting or laying down the law. If there was ever a kid to come completely unglued in the face of parental pressure, it's Carter.
But almost overnight it seemed, something changed. Maybe it was being seven and a half--those half year marks always seem to note big changes in both my kids--but Carter started talking about being sad that he was always missing out. He wanted to do stuff. He didn't want to be afraid anymore.
I spent more than a few crazy nights with Carter on my little kid-sized therapy couch, trying to help him get his confidence up, listening for signs that he was ready to take the leap.
Then one night at bedtime he announced he had two goals. One, learn how to ride his bike. And two, learn how to swim. After a few tentative tries, he was figuring out how to balance. Within a week he was flying across the parking lot. I've never seen him happier. Now with this new skill under his belt, he's warming up to what it will take to learn how to swim--actual swim lessons--though he reports the thought is still horrifying.
I'm still not sure if I did the right thing to let Carter decide it was time--at almost eight--to learn how to ride his bike, but this one thing is certain: there's a particular happiness that comes with deciding it's time to do something on your own, without any pressure, without anyone else deciding how you should learn and when. Carter may be a little bit late to the bike riding scene, at least for this neighborhood, but his joy in choosing his own timing is all his own and something about that is making us both very, very happy.
Read more about what to expect from your seven year old.