Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Oh, deer...

The deer sure have been active in our neighbourhood recently, so we have to be extra cautious when driving in the dark (and during the day as well, I suppose, but especially at night (let's just say it's good to always drive carefully)). 

Here's a deer we spotted while out on a run this morning:

And here's a deer who spotted us as we finished walking up the steep hill while on our walk/bike this afternoon:

The kids were particularly riled up this afternoon (for whatever reason), so I told them to hop on their bikes and ride around the block. Zoë and Benjamin took off, and even grabbed some of the neighbourhood kids to join them on their zip around the block. Poor Alexander sat on his bike at the bottom of the cul-de-sac and wailed crocodile tears of betrayal. 

"But Reed is my friend!" Alexander sobbed. "I wanted to ride around the block with him."

With my patience worn down to a nub (and no hope for "gentle" parenting at this late hour in the afternoon), I snapped, "Oh, stop it. Reed is not your friend. Reed is so much older than you that you will never be in middle school or high school or even college together. He doesn't have to wait for you. Now stop crying and start riding."

Miriam pointed out that if you ride too slowly on a bike, you tip over (this is true).

Rachel pointed out that the very reason he is so often left behind is because he stops to cry instead of hurrying to catch up (this is true). 

As we walked I began to feel guilty about saying Reed wasn't his friend. That's not true. Reed is his friend. I don't really believe friendships can be defined by what age you are (and, in fact, think it's healthy to be friends with people who are all sorts of ages) so why would I tell my child that?

Because I was tired, yes, but that's hardly an excuse. I shouldn't have been so snappy with him.

Fortunately, he still needs quite a lot of help going uphill and downhill, so I had time to talk with him as I was jogging beside him (to help him be brave while going down the hill; he really likes to slam on the brakes and we're trying to help him feel more confident about gaining momentum) and while giving him a little helping hand up the hill (but not the hill pictured because it's so steep). 

"Reed is your friend," I corrected myself. "Of course Reed is your friend. He is kind to you, he plays with you, he shares with you, he thinks you're great. You are great! And it's fine for you to play with Reed, even if he is a little older. But because he's older you're not quite peers. That means there are just some things that Reed will be able to do that you can't do yet because of your age difference. And that's okay. You'll learn to do those things as you practice more and more, but friends don't hold their friends back from activities just because they can't participate. Like, just because you can't ride around the block on your own yet doesn't mean you should prevent Reed from doing so if he can, because friends don't hold friends back. Sometimes the big boys ride circles with you in the cul-de-sac so that you don't have to worry about being left behind or catching up. That makes them good friends because they're encouraging you to practice. But you can't always expect them to stay by your side. Sometimes you've gotta let them fly...because friends don't hold friends back. Got it?"

I think he got it.

And I think he realized how difficult going around the block is (it's been a while since he's attempted it on his bike) and he was grateful to have his mommy close by. 

Meanwhile, Benjamin and Reed were proud of having navigated all the hills using their gears—they didn't stop once. And Zoë bemoaned her gearless bike (because she had to stop and push a time or two). 

All in good time she'll be ready for a bike with gears and Alexander will be zooming off around the block on his own.

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