motivating the kids.... it can be tough to motivate the kids

in film The Great Santini Robert Duvall portrays a type A Alpha male air force pilot father who works to motivate his family in the only way he knows how... military speak
at times I can not resist my default settings

as fathers we often assume that Father Knows Best
which may some times be true... unless we let things roll on auto pilot
for some reason the role of drill sergeant is often how I attempt to enlist the participation of my children in different activities

The Great Santini on the Wiki Page
Father Knows Best on the Wiki Page

The Kid's Race at the 2009 Liberty Jamboree

(last year's post on the topic)

after the adult riders and racers were fed and rested everyone got ready for the much anticipated Liberty Jamboree Kid's Race
this is a race that has a reputation for being the Shenadoah Mountain 100 of Kid's Races
my boys were on the swing...

I pulled Dean and Grant's bikes out from the car
as other parents and children started to get ready
I tried to gather my boys

my somewhat spacey but usually obedient Dean stepped away from what he was doing and found his helmet and then his bike
Dean started to ride around with the other kids
while Grant informed me that he was not going to take part in the kid's race

ah... a repeat of last year... a repeat of similar events in the past

well... Grant can be a stubborn one...
when he is fixed on no... there is often an issue in reversing that decision

the week prior at the BMX course Grant had told me that it did not matter what I said... he was not going to do any more laps

I thought about that strong stance before I started in on our discussion

earlier in the afternoon I had mentioned the kid's race and got similar resistance...
at that point I told him that he had a choice to race or not to race
but that I would like him to race and I felt that he would enjoy racing

at that point his no was not so firm... I was not pushing for an answer at that time
as the kid's race was more of a discussion than an actual event

well... rather than repeat myself only to have him repeat himself with a firm no I took an alternate approach

I walked up to Grant on the swing and asked him to take a walk with me
we took a short walk just a few steps away
and I asked him to sit down
just in the distance there were horses within view

with my camera in hand I asked Grant if I had ever shown him the ZOOM feature on t
he camera
I displayed how it worked then passed it off to him

then Grant took some photos of the horses

when he was done I gently retrieved the camera and began our discussion

most of the kids who were going to do the kid's race were already riding around on the driveway

I spoke to Grant about the kid's race Grant was calm and Grant listened
the firm no response had been removed from the forefront of my brain

never did I have to resort to YOU ARE GOING TO RACE AND YOU ARE GOING TO LIKE IT

no... in fact I really just had to reiterate my intentions

not sure if Grant was swayed by my speech or tired of hearing me talk
but I got the response I was looking for... Grant said... okay... alright... I will race the kid's race

all the kids lined up on the grass in what appeared to be race formation and then swarmed
into the woods off the grass and onto the singletrack
the kids were rolling into the woods far ahead of the parents

Dean and Grant were off in the front breaking away from the pack

in the same way that I would retract my dogs I whistled loudly

then whistled again...
parents behind me yelled to their children...
but I could hardly hear them so it was unlikely that the kids that were just specs in the distance could hear them at all

I sent a few more sharp ear piercing whistles
then I saw the kids had turned around and were looking back the kids passed me headed back to the house only to turn it around again pointing back into the woods
it was chaos
.... complete kid chaos
kids of various ages and various skill levels pedaled a variety of different man powered wheeled machines in all the madness
Dean tried to make a pass around a younger child on a tricycle
it could have been a root or a rock... no one is really sure but in an effort to dodge the smaller child young Dean crashed and crashed hard
handlebar to the solar plexus
the pain was visible on his face
Dean could not get up... he did not want to get up... Dean definitely did not want to get back on the bike

I lifted my long and lanky 8 year old into my arms and hugged him

poor little Dean had really taken a hard blow
after a short hug I took him aside off the trail and looked under his shirt checking for bruises and scrapes nothing...

still shaken Dean fought back the tears
I lifted his bike and turned to him
Dean told me that he did not think he could ride

Dean told me that he did not want to ride

I asked Dean to walk with me

as we walked the young racers gathered
in a cluster of training wheels, tricycles, push bikes, and two wheeled bikes with and without parental assist
Dean walked along side of me as I walked his bike to the line

in that hundred yard walk since the spot of the crash Dean was able to get his breath
without argument
Dean took the bike when I offered it to him
I then moved back into a space on the trail to try and snap a few photographs master of ceremonies Jim Casey tried to shuffle the kids into categories separating the two wheelers from the training wheels and trikes

then they were off

call ups may have come into play
the spot on the start line looked like it would dictate the race

Dean started off trail in the brush and Grant had a slow start starting on his own and was immediately a few spots back

as the kids rolled further down the trail each child made a pass and took their slot in the queue

the kids rolled around the bend to the finish
I was not sure of how things ended
but I was proud of the efforts that I saw before me

Grant not only participated... but he gave it his all

Dean performed very much the same... Dean showing a level of strength to get back on the bike and get back in the game
I was certainly proud of each of my boys and their effort
I was pleased that they had both participated and that they had each displayed such a strong effort

it turned out that Dean finished first... which was not such a victory since he may have been the only 8 year old in the bunch
while Grant at five finished Third

all the kids got a Pedal Shop water bottle as a prize
all the kids got to roll across the finish and break the tape

I heard that Grant went across the finish line raising his hand from his handlebar waving his fist with bra

this was the experience I was hoping to create for them
all the kids had a blast
if it had been a loop I think the kids would have all kept riding

so often it is hard to get the kids to do what is best for them
even if that is getting involved
the brains of small children can be tricky to understand
I am not clear on what gives the children apprehension... maybe it is the same list of issues that give us adults anxiety
fear of not performing as well of the others
fear of failure
not sure

as much as the kids may have a right to their deciding what they do or don't do
there is a time where a parent needs to guide their children into getting involved
perhaps if they could only remember the joy they felt after the action they would not be so hesitant to jump into the action the next time it is offered to them

it was a good day on the bike for the adults and the children
this is a weekend that I look forward to for me and for the family
each year the Liberty Jamboree delivers
thanks again to Jim, Amy, and Amy's parents for hosting this event
we all appreciate their efforts
this weekend is definitely a summer highlight!


PEP said...

Great story, great update from the mother country.

gwadzilla said...


not sure if I said what i wanted to say...

but i said something