For those of you unfamiliar with the degree of Maggie’s adventurous spirit, it’s about a 1.2 on a scale of 1 to 10. She’s not real excited to pursue scary / new experiences and tends to
kind of completely freak out when presented with them. We are not totally sure where all of this come sfrom – I fully relate to the lack of excitement as I am not adventurous myself, but my fear of failure / disappointing authority generally kept any freaking out on the inside. I would just force myself into action after confirming that the trusted grown-up really did want me to ride a bike, play the piano during a recital, dive off a starting block holding a nine pound weight above my head, play soccer, etc., etc.
Anyway, a year ago, Mags was experimenting with a no-training-wheels bike at the Green’s house – a house full of extremely adventurous children that Mags considers her best friends. She seemed to be ready, so Boppa took off her training wheels here at home and we began to work on this new skill. About sixteen seconds into the first session, Maggie decided that this was a scary / new experience, and the freaking out began. We continued to work with her, on and off last summer and fall, making absolutely zero progress and “enjoying” lots of freaking out. Since riding a bike is not a necessary life skill to possess at the age of 5 1/2, and there is plenty of drama to deal with in the necessary parts of Maggie’s life, we decided to just leave the bike as it was and wait awhile to see what happened. When we pulled out the bike this year to see what the status was, Maggie had clearly progressed in gross motor skills but was still freaking out, so we pretty much dropped the instruction again.
And then something weird happened.
Maggie was showing off her “new trick” to us on Monday night, which was kind of scooting around the driveway on her bike. We really didn’t pay much attention to this, to be completely honest. She seemed perfectly content to scoot, so we figured this stage would last a long time. Last night, while Geet and I were at a bridal shower, Mags begged Dada to take her outside so she could scoot some more. Dada agreed and he and Cal proceeded to play catch while she scooted around. Sean said that he glanced up every minute or so to check on the scooting, and without warning, one of his glances found Maggie doing this…
No drama, no freaking out, not even an announcement of “hey, lookee here, I’m riding my bike!”. It was like it was completely normal and she’d been doing it forever. Sean said that she immediately was even able to make pretty tight turns and demonstrated her skidding ability. She absolutely loves it and has been riding for most of the day today…in fact, she’s riding right now and Calvin is yelling directions at her through the window – “Leg down! Mah-geeee, leg down! Watch out! Cars!”.
So now I’m trying to figure out how to apply this to learning to swim. (Yes, that’s right, the daughter of a former competitive swimmer, coach and instructor who has taught, oh, seventy kids between the ages of 3 and 6 how to swim can not swim a lick at the ripe old age of 5 5/6, and has me more stumped than I’ve ever been in regards to instruction.) The freaking out combined with the public nature of available swimming pools around here has proved an insurmountable obstacle thus far…oh, and throw in Mag’s natural inability to float because her body density is so high. It gets old really fast to have everyone near the pool staring at you, wondering what sort of torture you are putting your poor child through that would cause such screaming and sobbing…and it’s only her feet that are wet at that point. Obviously it’s not going to work to just toss her in the pool to find the equivalent of “bike scooting” and expect a solo swimming demonstration shortly thereafter…drowning would probably interfere with those plans pretty early on. Maybe the new calm, no-big-deal attitude will just carry over to our next pool visit. I’ll keep you updated.