I've been trying to teach Zack how to ride a bike for a long, long time. His dad has tried, his trainer has tried, but we all are fighting his proprioperception issues. Proprioperception is, in a nutshell, where you feel your body is due to stimuli in your body. Zack has to convince his mind that the ladder he's about to climb really isn't as tall as Everest, even though his body is telling him, quite vehemently, to back away.
The only place he feels 100% himself is in the water, and that's because the water pushes on his body in equal ways. I had him in the water at six months old, he earned his deep water swimming wristlet when he had just turned four, and he was on a swim team just as he turned five. To say that gym class is not always a barrel of giggles is an understatement. We tried putting him into various sports before he started school, but it was just not at all for him. All he got out of it was fear and frustration.
We tried everything. Razor scooters were the closest he got to being able to figure out balance. We bought a tandem bicycle so Zack could get the feeling of balancing AND pedaling without the fear of falling. Think about it for a second -- most of us don't think twice about getting on a bike, pushing off, and pedaling. We don't think about balancing until it's time to make a turn, and our body just does it. For Zack, it doesn't. It could, and I hope it will, but if you have the perception that you're not on your own bike, but THIS kind of bike.....
|public domain photo|
... well, learning to ride a bike can be daunting.
It's hard to know when and how hard to push your child, but knowing he's been through occupational therapy at three and has already accomplished so very much that we weren't sure he ever would, we've decided to be pretty calm about it. That doesn't change how he feels, though. He really, really wants to ride a bike. He just has to find the courage to believe in himself.
Enter Danny MacAskill.
Danny MacAskill is a Scottish cyclist who tackles terrains I wouldn't even walk on, let alone bike on. I ran across this video, "The Ridge", and I hope you'll take seven minutes out of your life to watch it. Not only is Danny an inspiration, Scotland is just freaking gorgeous.
Why do I think Danny is an inspiration? I mean, if after watching this video with Zack I said, "See, you can do anything you want!", I'd have an eleven-year old who very well might feel worse about not being able to ride a bike on flat sidewalk, and therefore never picks one up again.
No, Danny and people like him are inspiring because they've found "their thing" and didn't let time or age get in the way. Some people find "their thing" at age three. Some find it in middle age. Some don't find it until they're in their senior years (Grandma Moses, anyone?). Some people find several "things" throughout their lives. For a while, my "thing" was a proficiency in languages. Later, I started selling my jewelry at 36 or so. And I have a feeling I'm not done finding "things" to make me go, 'YEAH! I did that!".
|My first attempt at etching. The hardest part was filing down the back of the bird so it would fit under the mica.|
That's the message I wanted Zack to take from the video. Very few people, I explained, have such a spectacular "thing", but I dare say that most people feel as wonderful about their particular skill as Danny MacAskill does (just without the Red Bull endorsement!).
You are never to young or too old to learn, to discover your "thing", the skill that makes you happy. Zack could swim practically before he could walk. I'm 45 and I'm cautiously scratching the surface of new things myself. YES, it can be scary. YES, you can fail. But each failure teaches you something and the important thing is to keep going. Maybe being a tight rope walker is not going to be in the cards for you, but being a ballroom dancer is.
And for Zack, whether he learns to ride a bike or not, he will at least know that there's a whole word of "things" out there yet to be discovered, at any age whatsoever.