I tend not to focus on the can nots. On the things we are not able to do. Mostly because I do believe that in the main it is what we can’t do yet rather than what we can’t do. That if we actually wanted to do something then we could.
I think that what we don’t have or can’t do is mostly to do with having chosen a different path.
I can’t have a bath tonight or pop to the 24 hour supermarket or ring for a takeaway because I have chosen to live somewhere where I get to see the red deer rut from my lounge window, the evening sky catch fire with breathtaking sunsets and my children have seen the northern lights from their beds.
Having chosen the path of Home Education there are various things Davies and Scarlett can’t do. There will be milestones they have not hit, areas in which they are not level with their peers, gaps in their knowledge, spaces in their skills. I believe this is because they have been far too busy getting up to other things instead, things which may or may not rank above or below in importance in the scheme of things but at the time were precisely the right thing for them to be doing. And that if at some future point those gaps and spaces become an issue they will address them then and there and fill them up accordingly.
Learning to ride a bike has been one of those gaps. They had the toddler trikes, they had scooters. But somewhere along the way when other children their age were learning how to ride bikes we were busy doing something else instead. I’m not even sure what now -I cannot cite the moments when instead of loading up the car with bikes on a rack and heading to the park we went off and did something else instead. The day when we didn’t ceremoniously remove the stabilisers from the back wheel of their bike and push them across the lawn promising not to let go but letting go anyway. Maybe we were off at the zoo, or the beach, or camping, or at a museum, or the theatre or cinema instead. Perhaps we were reading, or drawing, or hanging out with friends.
Whatever. It didn’t happen. We did buy Davies a bike once. We took him to the beach which had a very good cycle path. We talked to him about it in our usual honest fashion – Ady said ‘Now you will fall off, it will hurt. But that is part of riding a bike’. To which Davies looked at me, shook his head at Ady’s stupidity and firmly announced that if he didn’t get on the bike and attempt to ride it then no, he would not fall off and no he would not get hurt. So why on earth should he try?
For at least the last four years though Davies has added ‘learn to ride a bike’ to his list of things he wants to achieve this year. Each year it has not happened. Again I can list what we did instead. He has certainly not sat waiting with a hopeful look on his face for the day that year that he learns to ride a bike. Life has simply gotten in the way.
But this year, this year we decided it was definitely going to happen. My parents birthday present to each of them has been a bike (Scarlett’s is an early present – having a December birthday means you either get the best presents early, late or combined with your Christmas present!) and today was the day.
We practised on the croft first, down hill, on grass, got all the falling off and working out what height the saddle should be at on nice soft ground. Then we took them down to the village and used the smooth track infront of the castle. Our children have very different approaches to learning new skills – both in line with their personality and both work for them personally. Davies needs a bit of goading, some challenging, some prodding and poking and inciting to actually really truly give his best. He needs to get a little bit pissed off and angry – with me, with the bike, with himself. He needs to have something to prove to someone.
Scarlett needs an audience for her own personal commentary as she psyches herself up and cheerleads all by herself. She compares herself and needs to be reminded that it is not a competition. She never loses heart and just needs reassuring that if we are still there trying by moonlight then that is fine.
Within an hour they had both cycled for a fair distance and cracked it. More practice is needed, more confidence and more skill in combining looking, listening, steering, pedalling and braking all at the same time. But today was the day and it happened, they did it, they can.