Saturday, September 01, 2012

Never Give Up

I have always loved the Calvin Coolidge quote:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” 

The other day, Owen was asking around for headphones for his MP3 player. He trudged up the stairs, not knowing that I was in the bedroom listening, and muttered to himself "Never give up. Never give up."

I called out to him; "What's wrong, Owie? Is everything okay?" His reply: "I wasn't talking to you, Daddy, I was talking to myself."

As an aside, Jenn and I are always trying to find a balance between helping our kids, and letting them learn to help themselves. It is a fine line, where crossing over can create kids who take unnecessary risks, and not even approaching the line can create dependant kids who can't problem solve.

It was nothing, certainly, but it got me thinking of his journey in learning to ride his bicycle. You see, three months ago, our walks through the neighbourhood were very different. Daisy had just started using her tricycle this spring, with a handle on it for guiding her around trouble spots. 

Owen was content to walk beside her, even if he'd suited up with the helmet and brought his little plastic 'big-wheel' type bike that we'd picked up at a yard sale. He just liked to be out and doing stuff. 

It wasn't for lack of trying. We had bought him a Hot Wheels tricycle. When we saw how much he hated it, we weren't sure he'd ever ride a bicycle. He just couldn't put together the co-ordination to get it all to work. 

He still liked the 'big-wheel' because he could sit on it, and scoot his feet along, not using the pedals, and push himself forward. But it still didn't work for getting him around on our rides, because he could only do it for a short distance. We didn't give up though. We kept encouraging him, and brought the 'big-wheel' with us for all our walks along waterfront trail, and to Zwick's Island. I even had to carry it on my back many times while skateboarding to keep up with the other two, who were, by this time, quite fast.

Then a funny thing happened. It just clicked. He finally understood pedaling, and our rides took on a different speed. Less than three weeks ago, he was able to ride his little plastic 'big-wheel' around the block the whole way. 

Daisy, in the meantime, graduated to her big-girl bike, and so we were able to go farther and faster than before. Again, just as he had caught up, Owen found himself at the back of the pack.

He was disappointed. He didn't give up. He didn't have a meltdown. He quietly set himself to this new task. One night, I looked out to find him riding Daisy's bicycle. No shirt, no helmet. He just up and did it.

So I took Cole's old bike out of the garage and attached the extra set of training wheels, and made sure he knew it was for him. The very next weekend he was out riding.

His going from not being able to alternate pedals in June to riding his own bike in August is nothing short of miraculous for our little guy. He has so many problems with proprioception, not being able to cross centre-line, and being overwhelmed with too much stimulus, that we forget he has many strengths. Persistence. Determination. He has an inner strength that can't be measured or seen, that powers him through the toughest of challenges. What better to give children to arm them for the world out there, than that kind of gumption?

My wife, Jennifer's, blog can be found here:

And my first novel, squeakyclean, is available on Kobo, Amazon, and Kindle, or just click here:

It's probably a good idea to read the first installments on Owen before this one if you haven't already:

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