left behind

Cohen hasn’t quite mastered riding a bike yet.

OK, so he can ride his bike… meaning he’s mostly able to stay up once he’s up, but he struggles mightily with the starting and stopping. So every time he wants to get going he needs the tiniest little push from someone. (Actually, he doesn’t really need any forward momentum, he just needs the bike held stable for the smallest of moments so he can get his foot around and get going, but he doesn’t realize this and thinks he needs the push-start.)

He was a late learner to begin with, never really showed that much interest. For a while a had a lot of “dad guilt” about it, actually. Maybe I hadn’t spent enough “man time” with him, hadn’t spurred him on, maybe I’d failed to impart just how much independence and freedom betting able to ride a bike lends to a kid. I mean, I never taught him to throw or catch, either… maybe I’m screwing up all the father stuff.

Wait, this is not about me and where my ego is thin when held to the West’s toxic version of masculinity, let’s move on.

Anyway, we’re camping with the cousins on Jacksonville beach this weekend and all the kids are biking. Zooming around the campground loops, bombing down the sandy Florida hills, conveying themselves to the beach or wherever they please. They’re all starting and stopping and riding and not crashing…

And Cohen wants so badly to participate, to be part of the crew, to run with them – but he can’t keep up. Oh, guys, I’m telling you it’s positively heartbreaking for me to watch his spirits flag as he realizes they’re leaving him behind because he had to stop and now must wait for a push to get going again. I swear I’m experiencing his frustration and sadness myself, maybe moreso than he is.

Worse, he lets this frustration morph into an absolute fit, a breakdown of tears and anger and lashing out at anything he can blame. A root, a speedbump or pothole, a sister riding to close astride… anything will do as long as it’s not the fact that he just hasn’t got it mastered yet. Sadly he also doesn’t get that this behavior also sets him apart in his peers’ eyes, also as someone “younger” or “babyish,” dealing a double-blow against his desire to hang with the older kids.

I say it’s hard to watch, but watch I must, and he’s got to learn. In fact, yesterday Sharaun’s sister helped him (he’s got very little patience for lessons from me, especially when he’s frustrated) and he was able to get going without assistance several times. Fingers crossed that maybe today is a watershed moment for him & it clicks.

Go Cohen, I love you little dude. You got this.

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