Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Learning Lessons from our Children
Stop and listen

by Mary Susan Buhner

November 01, 2011

Isn’t it funny when our children teach us a lesson? I was recently organizing pictures that had managed to stack up on my desk. This particular stack of pictures were of my middle daughter. As I flipped through several of them I smiled to myself remembering many of the moments captured on film. I got to the very last picture in the stack and it made me stop in my tracks. It was a picture of the two of us on the night she first learned how to ride her bike without training wheels.

I remember it clearly, she was almost 5-years-old at the time when she came up to my husband and I as we were putting away all the bikes, balls, sidewalk chalk and other summer toys that happily filled up our yard and driveway that day.

I will never forget it…it was dusk…close to 9 p.m. on a clear summer night. Caroline came up to us as we were getting everything put away for the night. She said, “Mommy, Daddy…I want to take the training wheels off my bike tonight.” We chuckled and I am sure patted her on the head and said, “That is great, Caroline…but NOT tonight.” After all, we were just wrapping up the night and headed inside.

Persistent, Caroline tugged on my shirt and said, “Please Mommy…let me try tonight.” By this time I had thoughts of me running up and down the street in the dark beside her bike as to make sure she will not fall or tip over without her training wheels on. It was an easy dismiss…not only was it almost dark out, but I was just flat out not up for it. After all, I think I chased her older sister for two weeks beside her bike when we took her training wheels off for the first time. With a nod to my husband to confirm our decision – we were in agreement. NOT tonight.

It is what happened next that gave me clarity. My sweet daughter did not say anything more because she knew she would not win. With a turn of her head I saw her face as she headed into the house. It wasn't sad or upset – it was powerless. It dawned on me at that very moment that I was responsible for taking away her power about something she was so very sure of and determined to try.

Catching myself, I asked my husband to take off her training wheels. I swore I would do the running beside her in the dark. I told Caroline to come out and we would give it a try until the sun went all the way down. Her helmet was on, her training wheels were off and before I could tie my untied tennis shoe to start my sprint next to her on the bike – she was down the driveway riding her bike on her own – confident 100 percent that she was NOT going to fall, NOT going to swerve side to side and did NOT need me beside her to catch her. She believed she could do it and knew she had the skills to do it. She told me she could do it. She was RIGHT.

I learned a big lesson by watching her that summer night – watching her ride her two wheeler bike smiling from ear to ear – pink handlebar streamers flying and knowing in her heart that she could do it.

I learned that summer night of the importance of stopping and listening to my kids. As a mom, there is a thousand things going on at once that sometimes it is hard to just stop and listen. Most times I hear myself talking - telling them to clean up their rooms, pick up their shoes, turn down the television. In those instances, those small moments, sometimes our children have something important to say and it is equally important for us to stop and listen. After all, it can be that one small moment that can turn into one big moment that you just might never forget.