A for Effort?

It’s good to have goals and deadlines to help me focus. If I didn’t set imaginary deadlines for myself, I’d never get anything done. That said, here we are at my imaginary deadline for a blog post and I’m stuck admitting that I failed. I tried two different goals and flunked both of them. Nobody would have even known if I hadn’t given myself a Wednesday-Night-Or-Else deadline, but since I did, I guess I’ll  just have to come clean and admit it.

I decided to cancel all my piano lessons the first week of school to take time to get my act together before I go back into my crazy fall schedule. I pulled out the list I made at the beginning of summer of all the things I had to do. It was a very long list and I had only accomplished five of the items (all five the first week of June when I was feeling motivated). I decided there was no way I could start a new year without making a bigger dent in that list so I cleared my calendar and gave myself a rule that I would stay away from television for a whole week.

I did pretty well for five days. I cleaned out closets, set up workstations, framed stuff, moved stuff, threw away stuff, made appointments, and completed a dozen more goals. I found that when I didn’t let myself automatically turn on a show, I got so much more done and I felt much better about my day.

But then I caved. Every night I have to sit at my sons’ Peter Pan practice for three hours. I can’t read because it’s impossible to find somewhere quiet so usually I just watch something on my phone. The first TV-free rehearsal, I cleaned out my purse, transferred everything from my old wallet from my new one, organized coupons, made to-do lists and filled my calendar with Big Plans. The second night was more difficult because my purse was already clean so I tried to read my book over the sounds of toddlers screaming, Indians and Pirates flirting, a dog barking, and Lost Boys chasing bats (yes, bats live in our high school and fly through the halls at night). I white-knuckled my way through those three hours but the next night, for my own sanity and the safety of those around me, I gave in, plugged in the headphones, and went back to my shows.

Since I couldn’t manage to make it a whole week without television, I figured I’d better quickly find a different blog goal, one that I could get done on Saturday when I had time. Somehow I convinced myself that the easiest, most achievable goal would be to teach my youngest to ride his bike without training wheels. That’s right, I actually thought I could will my timid six-year-old to overcome all his fears of heights and motion in one quick Saturday session. I’ve never taught any of my children to ride a bike but how hard could it be?

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Apparently it’s not as easy as it looks. My experience with bribing him to swim with his face in the water (success after 15 minutes) and reading my friend’s experience teaching her daughter to ride fooled me into thinking this would totally work. I told myself he’s only still using training wheels because I haven’t taken the time to help him try. I sort of forgot there’s a reason I’ve never tried to teach my other boys to ride. Or tie their shoes. Or drive.

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Saturday was hot and miserable and holding on to a bike for a kid who was constantly listing was not very fun, especially when that kid grunted and shook his head every time I asked him to try again. Any time he wobbled to the side it was my fault and any time I told him he jumped off his bike before it even started to wobble he called me a liar. The more frustrated I got, the less confident he became. He was obstinate and mean, I was grouchy, the neighbors were annoyed and the sun was so hot. Just obscenely hot. It was awful.

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But I had a deadline! This had to be accomplished!

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Why am I such a dummy?

We tried. We really did. We took several breaks and came out to try again many times that day but we eventually decided enough was enough. I have no doubt that when my patient husband steps in to help, Fritz will have no trouble figuring it out. I just know it’s time to admit my failure. As much as I had hoped to finally be able to teach one of my kids to ride, it dawned on me that just maybe this was not something I could force. Although my previous attitude of “wait until they’re ready” meant my kids weren’t always the first to be potty trained, it sure saved them and me a lot of extra stress. It’s probably not a good idea to suddenly change parenting styles now just so I can fit my child’s success into my schedule or meet my imaginary deadline. 

I guess I forgot that my children are not boxes to check off of my to-do list.

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