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As regular readers might remember Big Girl learned to ride her bike a few weeks ago. As of this past weekend she was doing really well, but still needed to master some of the more difficult aspects of the task: turns, getting started on her own, weaving. So on Saturday I set out to teach her.

She got on the bike tentatively. She was nervous. She was upset. It was like she was starting over. She kept stopping and dropping her bike. Once so hard that the reflector popped off. She often let the bike fall on her, scratching up her legs. Another time she got a huge scrape on her knee because she just stopped riding and jumped off instead of making the turn. I didn’t handle any of that very well. I was aggravated to begin with since the weekend was piled up with events and appointments. I just wanted Big Girl to get it then and there so we could ride off into the sunset together. My expectations were a little flawed. I can see that now, but at the time it was so frustrating.

So terrible mommy that I am, what did I do? I sighed. I rolled my eyes. I acted impatient. Big Girl finally let me know what she thought of my teaching and parenting skills. She stopped, dropped the bike again, and wailed. “You don’t love me because I can’t do this. You are all, ‘Sigh. Sigh.'” she said, acting out my infantile behavior. She was right. I was acting like a baby. I stopped and apologized. I told her she could do it. And that she was doing a great job. I was the one who was doing the wrong thing. I was not being a good teacher. And I was sorry. (As usual.) Once we ironed out the fact that I thought she was doing a good job and I reinforced that fact with a hug and kiss, her confidence seemed to reappear. She started doing her turns. Then doing circles. Then working on starting up without help. We still need to work on the last part, but she got the idea of making turns and circles really quickly. She was beaming from ear to ear. Another mini milestone. And for me? Another failed parenting moment.

We are who we are. Big Girl was born, I am convinced, with my perfectionist leanings and super-high standards for herself. (I say that because I look at my two girls and they are completely different. Little Girl could care less about pleasing people. For Big Girl, it’s one of her main goals.) And because I was born with the same I expect at all times that I will be a great teacher and my kids will get things automatically. Expectations are often wrong, though, and the pressure that those expectations put on both kids and everyone around me is wrong, too. I am sure this won’t be the last time I confess to being a sucky parent, but at least I’m trying to be a better one, right? That, like Big Girl’s efforts to start her bike on her own, should could for something.

What’s your parenting style? How do you teach your kids without getting frustrated? Was your parent like I am? If so, how many years did you spend in therapy? I’d like to know.

One Response to “Teacher Becomes the Student — Again”

  1. MarthaandMe says:

    Riding a bike is a hard thing to learn! It sounds like she is on her way. And I totally understand about the wanting to please – I’m that way too.

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