Friday along with three other friends, Nels and Sophie and I completed a 16 mile ride, including the boldest uphill stretch. I had been worried about the after-effects of my daughter’s crash (which did not result in permanent injury or any dental problems, thank goodness) and wondered if she’d want to bike the entire way, including the very steep downhill. She did, and we made the trip in full style. I think sometimes I take these extended bike trips not just for the physical exertion and fun but also for the terrific appetite for the lunch I packed – which was wonderful.
Later that day a friend writes:
Sophie’s biking endurance and continuous go-getter attitude during that almost 18 mile ride certainly inspire me to do so much more than “stay positive”! The way that she biked uphill was not as if there was an obstacle that had to be conquered, but more as if she was out doing one of her favorite things. When she had to adapt because the hill was too steep to bike, she literally took it in stride and swung off her bike to walk up at a brisk pace.
While we were coasting down, I had the pleasure of riding sort of tangentially tandem to Kelly-hosting-Nels with Sophie single file behind. Nels’ physical ease, comfort, and playfulness on the extra cycle seem to embody these aspects of his spirit. My favorite part was his “hug trick” of holding on.
I was pleased Sophie enjoyed her bike trip and did swimmingly on her longest (yet) trip (in fact, back at the van where I was sweatily loading up the bikes she ran over from the playground and said, “Mom, I thought we were going to ride around the lake!” I’m like, I need coffee, I need to stretch my legs, I need to get home and take a shower). But I would hope that I would have easily allowed her to decide not to bike as well – though this might have stung a little, for me. Why we feel the urge to push our own ego up against our child – No, you need to get back on the horse and try again! – is something I’ll never fully understand. It’s a brutal experience for the child, who wants nothing more than for us to love it, who wants to please us but equally fiercely wants to be, to be recognized and honored for themselves. Some children are better at advocating for themselves than others; it’s those like Sophie, more permeable and easily injured, I worry most their parents won’t honor and protect.
I was proud of my daughter but I also felt more than ever the distance between us; she is a separate person, and I don’t take much credit for her awesomeness.