A pretty major event went down at the Spicer Kingdom the last few weeks. Everett finally learned to ride a bike, and while we can all agree that this is a pinnacle moment for a kid, I want to explain exactly why this is a huge inspirational moment.
Two weeks ago, Everett hated biking. When I type 'hate', I mean the feeling you get if someone traded your bed for a pile of rotting garbage and traded your bedroom for rotting garbage and said for the next year you can only eat rotting garbage. He thought biking was rotting garbage. Not literally, because he is a smart kid and understands the difference between decomposing waste and a physical activity. But he sure wasn't a fan.
Emily bought Everett a nice bike at least a year ago (it may have been two, but I'm old and lost the concept of the passage of time). He was super-excited about it initially, and he rode it with training wheels on. It was clear early on that he was leaning way too heavy on the training wheels and any time we suggested taking them off he panicked. As things were going at the time, he was not going to learn how to bike. This past fall, Emily took off the training wheels and Everett made every possible effort to avoid ever going back on the bike.
Danika on the other hand loved biking. She had a Strider, which is a balance bike without peddles. She was far more comfortable riding a bike than Everett. She would glide on it, go down hills and race around for entire afternoons. When Everett finally got on his bike, he was the opposite of fast -- Danika was the speeding runaway train and Everett was the exhausted sleeping snail. In the fall, Danika really liked biking to school and I was able to at least convince Everett to ride his scooter. Everett enjoyed his scooter. But he made it clear that he had no plans of ever riding his bike. Ever. He was ready for a life of scootering and a bike being a very expensive garage ornament.
I tried encouraging him to go out throughout this past year, Sometimes, I even succeeded in getting him to go out and ride for a few seconds. Usually I'd hold him while he wobbled around the driveway and Danika flew around spinning donuts beside us. There were agonized screams if I even hinted at the idea of letting go of him. I started to believe he would go through life not ever riding his bike or at least. I would need to hire someone else to try to teach him.
Then Covid-19 hit and playing outside became the ultimate recreational activity and a way to keeping our sanity. Even then, Everett stuck with his scooter being the way to play over even walking near his bike. His schoolteacher had daily suggestions for Daily Physical Activity, and one was a bike ride with the family. We had suggested this, and he declared it the rotting garbage of all ideas and he would scooter instead. The suggestion of biking was right up there with threatening to burn all his Pokémon cards or ridding the world of all candy.
Two days after the suggested DPA, Emily was outside with the kids and she encouraged both to ride their bikes. Danika jumped on it immediately and Everett pushed for his scooter instead. She encouraged him to use his pedal bike like the Strider and just glide on the bike. Our driveway has a decent hill, so you can glide down it and pick up a good deal of speed. Emily encouraged Everett to copy his sister (who has spent two years blasting down that hill with various forms of transportation) and glide down the hill. He was hesitant at first, but he went ahead with trying it. After not bursting into flames, he got much more confidence gliding down the hill. Then Emily started encouraging him to peddle while gliding down the hill, which meant for few seconds at the end of the hill he was riding his bike. He didn't go far, but it was a major progression.
I came out around this time and heaped praise upon him. It let him know this was a big deal and I was proud of him. This encouragement motivated him to glide down the hill the next day as well. This is when I reiterated that I was proud of him, but he countered that he wasn't actually riding his bike and it wasn't a big deal. I assured him that it was a big deal and that he was riding his bike, even if it was for a few seconds. I assured him that this proved that he could ride his bike, and he should not give up but rather start believing in himself. I told him to keep peddling while he goes down the hill because he will get more comfortable and he will start peddling for longer. By the end of that day, he was able to peddle out of our driveway and on to our neighbour's driveway, which connects with our own (the two driveways form a loop of sorts).
I showered him with praise and the pride was beaming off his face. The confidence was building and within a day his biking ability had jumped drastically.
Then that takes us to the next day. Where he no longer needed the hill to get him moving on the bike, but he was confident enough to hop on and start peddling. When I type that he could just hop on and bike, what I mean is he biked around the neighbourhood with me. By the end of the day, he had done fifteen laps around the neighbourhood. Biking was no longer rotting garbage but rather the magic gold that he couldn't get enough. He now wants to go out every day and do laps around the neighbourhood. On Tuesday, he biked from our house to his grandparent's house (for a social distanced visit), which for me would be about a 10 minute bike ride, which makes it even more impressive for an eight year old boy who less than two weeks ago said that he would never be able to learn how to bike.
I am so proud of Everett. He literally went from being petrified of biking to biking laps around our neighbourhood four days later. Four days later he achieved something that he did not think was possible. It is amazing and I let him know everyday how incredible it is that he has achieved this.
My son's huge achievement in learning to bike is a huge reminder for me. A reminder in the importance of believing in yourself. The importance to never give up even when an obstacle seems impossible to accomplish. The importance of not letting fear stop you from achieving your goals. The importance of remembering the things that seem impossible to accomplish can be accomplished.
My son's biking achievement is the exact type of inspiration that we need during these times of Covid-19. I know a lot of people who are either out of a job or have lost a lot of their income. I know a lot of people that are depressed while being stuck at home. Even before the pandemic. there are many people that have dreams or goals that they don't think they can achieve. Just like how on a Wednesday Everett thought he would never bike, but then on a Monday he spent his whole afternoon biking in our neighbourhood. He made his impossible into the possible. If an eight-year-old can do it than anyone should believe they can overcome their fears and achieve their dreams.
Anyone reading this blog knows that I have dreams. You may not know the extent of my dreams, but I have shared some of my goals. I want to publish novels. I want to grow the audience for this blog to the point that I can monetize it. I want to grow the audience of The Movie Breakdown and launch it into pop culture media network that delivers different podcasts, videos and shows. I want to join a critic's association and get my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, I would love to sell a screenplay, I want to provide entertainment that brings joy and value to the lives of others.
I also suffer from depression and anxiety. I have a lot of negative voices that try to convince me that no one wants to read my stuff or hear my thoughts. Some days, I look at my reader/listener numbers or see the places that I write for go out of business and start to believe that those voices are the truth. I've been digging deep into positive thinking and using meditation to try to become more optimistic, but some days those voices seem to have so much strength.
Maybe you can relate to the feeling that you can't even reach your goals. Or that life stuck at home is something you can't overcome. Maybe you don't think you can find work or make an income during these times. Maybe those dark voices are just too loud, and they are just speaking too much truth.
A truth that Everett believed when he said that he would never be able to bike. A truth he still believed when he first started peddling and he realized he was getting a better, but he still wasn't actually 'biking.' A truth that turned out to be a rotting garbage of a lie when just a few days later he had become a pretty good little biker. He now bikes for entire afternoons, and let me remind you, less than two weeks ago it looked like he'd never bike. But he achieved what he thought was impossible.
I understand a kid learning to bike is not the same as publishing a best seller or creating your own business that you can make enough to provide for your family. But those negative beliefs and fears come from the same exact place as the beliefs and fears that was stopping Everett. He overcame them because he achieved little victories that built up his confidence. He started to believe in himself and started to realize he could achieve his goal. He focused on what he wanted and shut out the negativity that had been hounding him for years.
You can too. Hell, we can too. I am just like my son when it comes to believing I can't accomplish some dreams. This is why my son being able to bike has been a monumental inspiration to me. Because it proves those negative voices and doubts are rotten liars and the impossible things can be made possible.
This is one of the reasons that I've always gravitated towards the careers of JK Rowling, Stephen King or Will Smith. Rowling and King came from very financially poor backgrounds and suffered through thousands of rejections when trying to get their works published. Now, they are two of the most successful authors of all-time. Smith had almost no musical or acting experience before starting his entertainment career, and then went on to have hit albums, a top-rated sitcom and several massive blockbusters (also got nominated for Best Actor Oscar).
I also love Smith's quote, 'Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.' If you want your life to be like a kid peddling his fastest with the wind in his hair and joys of the freedom of speeding around his neighbourhood, then you can't believe negative voices. Those voices that try to tell you what is realistic and why your dreams can never work. Everett didn't think it was realistic when I told him that he would be biking before he went back to school. He ended up biking faster than even I thought he could.
If you have goals and dreams that are being clouded by fear, then remember a little boy had those same level of fears just a week and a half ago. He conquered them and so we can accomplish our dreams too.