This week, EJ's PE teacher has had some after school practice sessions for the little kids to learn how to ride a bike. In EJ's case, she's had it down with training wheels for years now but has been scared to take off the training wheels. Last Tuesday her PE teacher had her riding without the training wheels within a half hour even though it has been really scary for her. I find it interesting that she is far more afraid of riding a bike than a horse - even though the horses she rides (Doc and Oh No) are about five times taller than her bike.
Yesterday there was another practice session with the PE teacher so I took her bike to school. She was getting angry with me because I wasn't pushing her off correctly (apparently, this was happening with all the parents because none of us were pushing off the way the PE teacher does ... ???) So there was a meltdown about that. Then she got going really well on her own but I had told her to peddle backward to brake because she was less likely to tip over than putting her feet on the ground and dragging them to stop. So, she had picked up a fairly decent speed going downhill and panicked and screamed, "Somebody help!" and had that wobbly look like she was going to crash. I turned to run over to help her stop (figuring if she crashed she would never get on her bike again) but before I could get there her boyfriend, Zach came riding up to her on his bike as fast as he could and grabbed her arm to stop her. The bike slid out from under her and she started to fall and Zach steadied her and said, "You're OK," to her. It was just about the cutest thing! I hope that in ten years she will still like nice boys like him. Of course they had the usual 6-year old "You saved my life!" moment. Then she refused to get back on her bike.
We had a brief argument about it with me saying that I didn't want to quit on a bad note and I believed in her and her saying she didn't believe in herself and she would never ride a bike again. Finally she said she wanted some space away from me and went off to cry and Zach and another one of her friends went to talk to her. Then when she'd calmed down she came back and we agreed she would tell the PE teacher she was scared and see if he had a solution.
His solution was the same as mine but she was much more willing to put up with him implementing it than me. He said, "Get back on the bike! You can do it! You're a rider not a quitter! I believe in you!" and she started crying and said she couldn't and he said that she could and told her to get on. She got on the bike crying her head off and the PE teacher told her to pedal and started pushing her, then told her how to push back on the pedals to stop and pushed her legs in the right direction to show her how. All the while she was crying and wailing and saying she couldn't do it. Then he told her she was going to try by herself and pushed her off and she was screaming and wailing (but still riding the bike just fine by herself) and the PE teacher yelled, "Now push back on the pedal to stop!" and she did and the bike stopped and she didn't fall and we all cheered. She instantly stopped crying, looked completely amazed, then her face lit up and she squealed, "I can do it! I can do it!" It was pretty cool! Her friends came over and hugged her and said they knew she could do it then they all ran off to play on the monkey bars.
We stopped on the way home and got donuts to eat while watching a movie as a treat in the evening for going through such a huge thing - not only did she learn how to stop on her bike but she also worked through her fear! I am very proud of her and I'm really impressed with how nice and supportive her friends are. I hope she is always drawn to kids like that and I hope they will be able to hang onto how nice and confident they are as they get older.