I am very lucky. I have been blessed with a great stepson. The Boy is an amazing kid. He is kind of your normal 13-year-old boy. He can be funny, moody and too smart for his own good by half. For as long as I have known him he has been afraid of…well most everything. I am not going to get into who or why this happened, mostly because it matters very little in the big picture.
There have been so many things that he has either stopped or not even started because he was scared. I am not going to lie, this has been a large frustration of mine. I have attempted to get him into different things like sports or other activities he mentioned that he MIGHT like such as skateboarding. I got him the gear and all then…nothing. Oh well. Such as life, right? I came to a point where I was not going to push it anymore. I knew it was not going to be best for him to try to push into stuff beyond his comfort zone until he was ready.
Fast forward a year or so. I bought a new-to-me Harley. When I showed a picture of it to the Boy he said that he thought it was so awesome. I asked him if he wanted to ride on it when I got it. He said, “maybe.” This was about what I was expecting he would say. He always says “maybe” if he thinks “no” will hurt the other person’s feelings. Like I said, he is a great kid! I told him that he is welcome to join me if he wanted to.
A few days before I brought the bike home, I decided to check in with him and see if he was still at a “maybe”. He said that he thinks that It would be a lot of fun to ride but he was scared. I told him that it was ok. I asked what about it was scaring him. He said that he did not want to fall and get hurt. I told him that if he wanted to ride with me I would teach him how to ride on the back of the bike. I also told him that if he wanted to ride with me he would always wear both a helmet and proper riding clothes just in case something would happen. I then told him that I would only ride on the slower side streets until he said that he was comfortable. He thought about it and said that he would like to try.
We hit the cycle store and he picked out a helmet for himself. Of course, he picked out a red and black full-face. The red and black was exactly what I thought he would because these are his favorite colors. The full face was my call because I wanted him to have the most protection available, heaven forbid something would happen. Then we ordered matching jacket and gloves for him. If it is worth doing, it is worth doing all the way, right?
The next week I was able to get the bike home. The weather was nice-ish (in the upper 30s and no rain). The bike was not home a few hours and the Boy was all “WHEN CAN WE GO RIDING!?” I told him when the weather warms a bit more. I did not want to let his enthusiasm fall flat so I took the opportunity to start teaching him some basic riding safety stuff like how to get on and off the bike, what to do (and NOT do) when he was riding, etc. I also let him hear what the bike sounded like when it was running. If you have ever heard most Harley’s run, you know that they can be a bit loud. The Boy has had a thing against loud noises forever so I wanted him to get used to the sound now so it did not add to his anxiety when it was time to ride. He jumped a bit when the bike fired, and being a bad dad I have to admit I chuckled a bit.
A few days went by and the mercury finally got about 50 and I decided to give a ride with the boy a try. I came home from some morning appointments and just mentioned off hand to the boy that I was thinking about taking to bike out to the store and wanted to know if he wanted to join me. Man-oh-man! You would have thought that I just gave the kid $1M and every Christmas gift that he had ever asked for all at once. After he stopped bouncing around like a bunny on PCP I said “so that is a maybe?” He then snapped back to his 13-year-old self and said “yep, maybe.”
He got his gear together and mounted the bike as I had taught him. I have to admit that I was a bit proud. So, after a quick review of the rules of the road we were off. After about 5 to 10 mins I felt the Boy relax and start to enjoy the ride. After about 15 mins I asked him how he was doing. “THIS IS GREAT!” So, after all his fears and worries, he loved riding with me. I ask him what his thoughts were about this. He said that he loved riding and if he was wrong about this, he wanted to start trying other things that he was too afraid of trying. I told him that was great and that we would work on them together.
I have to say that this was and is one of those moments of growth that parents live for. This is the kid that is/was afraid of almost everything in the world because he thought he was going to get hurt. Now he wants to go and conquer the world. From this single victory, he has found the courage to face the many other things that he has been to afraid too.
A lot can be learned from this moment. I know that there are still many things in my life that I sometimes struggle to find the motivation or energy or even reason to attempt to overcome. It is so easy for me (and us) to just make excuses why we leave those things unchallenged and/or unchanged. We can take inspirations from the Boy’s example and step out of our comfort zone and face one thing that we may not normally do. Maybe it will cause a snowball effect in our lives and all those things that we have been too comfortable or too afraid to do will be next on our “done” list.
As for me, I am going to enjoy our time together with my new Road Dog. Who knows where the road will take us. All we do know is that it is going to be an adventure, and we are both looking forward to seeing where it leads.
Bear on the Road