Back on the bike / by Susie Lubell

Aviv

Two weeks ago I finally took my bike out of the garage and not a moment too soon. This was the bike that I bought the day before our container arrived so that I would have a bike in Israel. In a truly uncharacteristic move I bought the first bike I saw in the store closest to our house and I did it in half an hour. I usually spend weeks researching these things and making lists and generally wasting a lot of time finding exactly what I want. Anyway, I bought the bike and the next day it went on a cargo container.

When it arrived it was winter and too wet to ride. Plus the baby was too small to put in the copilot seat. And my daughter had started boycotting bike riding which made family rides impossible. She had learned to ride without training wheels last summer in Bend, Oregon while on our big RV trip. But then we had to leave her old bike in New Mexico at the end of our trip (since we were flying back). The plan was to buy the kids bigger bikes before we left for Israel.

But the bigger bike was too big and riding it made her nervous. And then it went on the container and when she saw it again four months later, her fear had only grown. And even when we fashioned her a smaller bike with a frame we inherited from a friend, she still wasn't interested. Because by now she was nearly a whole year older and a different girl altogether. She was unsure. A little clingy. Timid. Not interested in challenging herself. Worried about what her hair would look like after she took off her helmet.

The change in her has been difficult to watch for many reasons. Obviously because I want her to be a self assured, confident, kickass rockstar girl. And for her to know her worth. But also because I know this path. For me it happened later. I remember feeling like a kickass rockstar girl as a kid. I performed in front of large audiences. I ran in races. I played aggressive girls soccer. I spent a lot of time raising my hand in class. But as I got older and maybe because the stakes were higher, I started to put my hand down. I stopped performing. I quit sports altogether. Not in kindergarten, mind you. It happened slowly as high school was winding down and gradually through college. Even into adult life and graduate school. It was counter intuitive. I thought that with age came wisdom. But I was becoming more self-conscious. I started to doubt myself in a way I never had as a kid. Even now I can still fall into periods of destructive thinking where I compare myself to friends, other artists, people whose lives seem charmed.

The good news is that I continue to work through my things and she's working through hers. When I finally got my bike out and put Toothy McHelmet Head on the back (which is now his all time favorite activity besides throwing food), she got out hers and we rode around our cul de sac for an hour. Then she attempted to ride down a little hill where previously she would get nervous and brake with her feet, Flintstone style. This time she was fine. Her helmet on, her hair whipping out the back in every direction and her face all smiles.