There was no mistaking my son’s response.
It wasn’t so much what he said, but what he didn’t say.
During his well-visit check up last week, the good doctor (and he is, truly, a good doctor) was talking to him about exercising and trying to eat more fruits and vegetables. At 11 years old, we’re having some challenges on both fronts; as if he’d read my mind, the pediatrician seemed to know the perfect approach to talk to my boy on this issue.
And then, a question. One that he’s probably asked hundreds, thousands of kids.
“Do you ride your bike in the neighborhood, maybe with a friend?”
My boy’s eyes went to the floor. There was no mistaking the look, the loaded weight of that inquiry.
His silence was just a moment, fleeting – accompanied by a quick look to me in the corner where I’d fortunately looked up from my phone to catch his glance.
His blue eyes said it all.
I don’t know how to ride a bike.
My bike is kinda small. I got it when I was 7. It has training wheels. That’s embarrassing.
What do you mean, a friend?
“I don’t really do that,” he said to the pediatrician.
* * *
Once you’ve been through an autism evaluation, you don’t view doctor’s appointments the same way. Ever. At least I don’t. There’s always a feeling of needing to be “on,” of not letting down your guard, of wondering what the hell they are really typing into that computer, of wondering if you are on the same growth curve as all the other parents.
And I know that this shouldn’t matter, but the truth is, it does.
Because as our first developmental pediatrician told us, you can’t help but compare kids to each other – and in this case, when you see other kids riding a bike, you can’t help but look at your kid and see another example in which you feel like you screwed up.
Because we haven’t taught him.
Because we couldn’t.
Because we tried – and then stopped.
Because of The Husband’s herniated disc.
Because it was hot outside.
Because it looked like rain.
Because we’re just not an active, outdoorsy kind of family.
Because he has autism.
Because it was too hard.
Because his anxiety.
Because. Because. Because.
I remembered this post from my friend Alison Piepmeier about her experience with what is now iCan Shine, Inc. (formerly Lose the Training Wheels). I remember thinking how much Boo would benefit from a program like that.
I remembered reading Alison’s post when we were on the cusp of moving to Pittsburgh, and checking to see if our new city had the same program. I remember the feeling of this is going to be okay when I realized that they did. I remembered being at The Children’s Institute (the program host of the iCan Shine Amazing Kids Bike Camp here in Pittsburgh) and mentioning the camp during a job interview I didn’t get.
I remembered my boy’s face in the pediatrician’s office.
This past Friday, I looked to see when the Pittsburgh camp would be taking place, knowing full well we may have missed it. Again.
And there it was. Starting today. Registration ended six weeks ago.
I emailed the camp director anyway. Long shot … just thought I’d ask … know it’s last minute …
There was one spot left.
* * *
Today was Day 1 of Bike Camp.
My boy was, as is his style when trying something new, kinda nonplussed. Somewhat uninterested, but semi-curious. My baby don’t care ….
iCan Shine relies on volunteers, as each rider is paired with at least one individual who walks or runs alongside him or her to help with spills and direction, give encouragement, catch smiles.
Boo’s volunteers are a family: a mom and her two sons who are helping out for the week.
Within minutes, he was on the bike and taking off around the indoor track.
He’s got this, I thought.
I’m not going to lie. It has been a good but very, very emotionally challenging summer.
We have fallen off so many proverbial bikes and learned how to get back on.
But for today? This one day?
We’re riding so high.
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in tandem (day 2 of iCan Shine Bike Camp)
cycles (day 3 and 4 of iCan Shine Bike Camp)