As a parent, it is a wonderful feeling to see your child accomplish something new. We watch as these precious little ones go from sleeping, to crawling, to talking, then to their very first day of school. During these years, we stay busy teaching our children all sorts of things, from clapping to rollerskating.
However, being a mother of an autistic child, I realized years ago that these things don’t always come so easy. My son was not interested in typical kid activities. He much more preferred peeling paint and pulling up carpet, than he did anything else. Therefore, he didn’t have the “want to” attitude a person must have to accomplish new tasks. Nor did he possess the coordination skills needed for most tasks to begin with.
Raising my son was nothing like I had planned, when I first found out I was pregnant with him. But, through all of our ups and downs, we pressed on. I was determined to make his life just like that of any typical child. Although tasks were difficult for him, I tried anyway.
I remember his first, and only, pair of roller skates. I took them out, put them on his feet and after about 5 minutes took them off again. That was the end of that. Then I tried teaching him to ride a bicycle. Every kid rides a bicycle, I thought. When I was a kid some of my most fun adventures were found while riding a bike. Therefore, I was determined that this was an activity that he must learn also.
When he was about 7 years old, I went out and bought him a very nice bicycle with training wheels, a matching helmet, knee and elbow guards. He was set!
Holding his hand on my right and pulling his bike on my left, we made our way to the sidewalk. I helped him onto the seat and started pushing him along. But, even with training wheels he could not balance himself. So, the majority of the time was spent holding him and his bicycle up. He was upset and I was exhausted, so we called it a day. This same scenario went on every day for a week or so. After several days and countless hours, I finally concluded that bike riding was just not for my son. Not everyone can do everything and that’s okay.
Seven years later, at age 14, my son asked me to buy him another bicycle. He was ready and wanting to try again. Having learned my lesson the first go around, this time I invested in a very inexpensive bicycle. It had no frills, no training wheels and was even a bit too small for him. I’ll admit, I wasn’t too confident that he would actually ride it. Therefore, I thought “why go all out for a five minute training session?”
Boy did he prove me wrong! After about ten minutes of training at the park, he was off! He was riding that bicycle like a pro. Needless to say, I was beyond excited; shouting, cheering him on and beaming with a big goofy grin on my face.
Now for anyone watching I imagine it looked a little strange. All they saw was a 14 year old boy riding an undersized bicycle and wearing a big blue helmet on his head, while his hysterical mother was running after him cheering and shrieking with joy.
What they didn’t see, were the many days of training and effort that went into this same adventure 7 years prior. Riding a bike may be a rather simple activity for most, but for my son this was a huge accomplishment; one that I never thought would happen. He rode that bike all afternoon and once again that same evening. He just couldn’t get enough and was visibly, and rightfully, proud of himself.
It probably won’t be long, before I look out the window and see him doing bike tricks in front of the house. Of course, now that he’s proved he’s a pro in the making, he’ll be graduating to a bigger and better bicycle soon.
He is amazing and he fills my heart with such joy.
Ride on son, ride on!