parenting... parenting in this new age... it has its quirks

this is a tough one...
we need to listen to our children
listen to more than the words
we need to read between the lines
it is important for us to know what is motivating them
or what is demotivating them

there needs to be a balance
often a parent "asks" a child if they want to do something
other times... a parent "forces" their child to do something
there needs to be a balance

we should not "ask"
we should not "force"

when to ask or how to ask is important
do the kids know what is best for them?

certainly not... we do not let them choose between vegetables and ice cream
if given the choice... the majority of children would chose video games over activity

we must try to guide our children to do what is best for them
we need to help them to understand why we are trying to have them do something

there are all sorts of factors contributing to a child's lack of enthusiasm 

there needs to be a more fluid approach
not to say I have figured this out

I am faking this as I go along just like all the other parents
it is not easy... none of us find it easy
yet we try

I am a father of two boys...
I coach my younger son's soccer team...
each year I host an assortment of youth cycling events
I ride and race mountain bikes myself

I have some insight into the situation

what situation?
"the situation"

I saw it on Saturday the day prior to the JBomb kids mountain bike race
it was the Crystal City Diamond Derby, a bicycle race in a parking garage
on this day I was the race director of the children's event
parents from the area brought their kids to the event so their kids could participate in a "just for fun" kids event

it was my duty at the Diamond Derby to design the kids course and lead the kid event
it was my goal for my boys to be present
for them to participate

for them to have fun and for their cycling skills and interest to develop

I wanted my kids to be there... I wanted lots of kids to be there
I wanted this to be a bicycle event for the kids to remember
the seed to have kids wanting to ride their bikes more
an opportunity for kids to ride their bicycle and experience that sensation that is riding a bicycle at your personal limits

the Diamond Derby kids event had a ride with a race format... in that there was a release
but there was no time keeper
no First Second Third
it was "just for fun"
everyone who participated would be awarded a prize for participation

there was a mini-course for the mini-kids
there was an abbreviated version of the adult course for the kids ride\race on

it was going to be fun
riding\racing a bicycle in a parking garage is a unique experience
a rush... a total rush
a hoot a holler and a scream

yet, there were some children intimidated by the setting
some of the kids shied away from the activity
one boy sulked
another girl cried

that was "the situation"
this situation is no entirely uncommon

the sulking boy was not willing to uncross his arms and get on his bike
the crying girl wiped back the tears and took the line all red faced

these were not my kids
I did not know either of these kids well enough to troubleshoot their issues with "the situation"
yet I tried
I tried and well... the parent of the crying girl tried
the boy with the arms crossed...  the parents accepted his hesitation

I understood their emotions
the concept of "pre-race jitters" are common in all of us
young and old
racers get it before an event
performers get it before they take the stage

life long athletes and life long stage performers get nervous
baseball players... guitarists... actors... 
they all get nervous
they all develop tactics for contending with this anxiety

as parents... it is up to us to help our children develop the mechanisms to contend with this anxiety
rather than buckle under the pressure
step up to the challenge
meet the challenge

everyone gets nervous
we need to step up
not cave into the pressure
but take that energy of the moment and allow it to propel us forward

my younger son Grant often has pre-race anxiety
not only does Grant get this anxiety, but he is both stubborn and wily

as an event approaches he often brings up some excuses
is his avoidance conscious or subconscious.... I do not know

but it is not uncommon for him to tell me about an injury, fatigue, or conflict of activities

this stuff is not made up... it exists... it is real... but it is amplified
he may have a twisted ankle... but is that injury so bad that he can not ride\race his bike?
then the scheduling conflict... we can adapt and work around these things

we can try... we can meet the challenge
as said... rather than buckling to the pressure

on Saturday when at the Diamond Derby Grant told me he did not want to race in the Open Class Scavenger Hunt event... I did not fight him
Grant had gone to Karate that morning... then had a soccer game mid-day... then arrived at the Diamond Derby for the kids race
where he rode his bike before during and after 

it seemed fair... if he did not want to ride with the adults at the Diamond Derby
I was okay with it
my effort to guide his effort was short
there was a reminder of his pleasure the year prior

but really... I did not have the time and energy to reverse his desire to avoid the activity
it was not that important to me that he do this one more race
sure I thought he would enjoy it
but I was not so set on being a dictator
as I wanted to reserve that right for the event the following day

sure... Grant did not need to race this last race
I would have Grant racing his mountain bike the following day
it was more important for me to have Grant riding\racing his mountain bike on Sunday than doing the scavenger hunt bicycle race on Saturday
but... the anxiety and hesitation about racing was actually in avoidance of Sunday

so... I had to start to chisel away at his anxiety 
find the root of his fears
help him to confront his fears
try to get meet the challenge rather than back down from the challenge

Sunday morning came and Grant told me he had plans with mom to go to the museum
then Grant told me he was injured
finally Grant let me know he would go to the race but he would not be racing
I had none of it... none of these things were acceptable excuses

I spoke with Grant about how these things were slight...
he could go to the museum another day... we have already have plans on this day
his rash is real... but not such an injury that it would prevent him from riding\racing his bicycle
then I reminded him about the fun he had the week prior

of course... it was not that easy
but he now understood that I was bringing him and his bike to the JBomb bicycle race
even with his hesitation I instructed him on his day
about how I wanted him to try his best
winning was not important... all I wanted was his best effort
to race his bike... not to just ride his bike

the drive was stressful as the drive an be
we were in the car for 20 minutes.... but we were only 5 minutes from home
I feared that we would not make it in time to race
but that is not how it played out
we arrived plenty early
we arrived on time

we arrived with enough time to register and ride our bikes around

the boys got suited up as I got them registered
once registered we got on our bikes and did a little warm up
our warm up was cut short by the need of Dean to "drop the kids off at the pool"
the race start was approaching
kids were already queued up at the line

we were at the bathroom
I was anxious... but I felt that we could make the start
of course I did not want to miss the start
yet I tried to be patient

things fell into place...
Dean finished the tasks at hand
we got back on the bike
we took the "creek trail" to the race start and the boys lined up

I had my camera slung around my neck and headed towards a point in the course where I could cheer and take some photos

I had done my part
I got my boys to the line
their bikes... bodies... and their minds were ready to race

the day unfolded as planned

more images from the JBOMB


and some images from The Diamond Derby

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