Here in Humidity City, I rarely see kids out playing in the middle of a June day. Instead, they turn up in the evening, in that precious hour between the time the sun turns down its heat and mosquitoes' launch their hunt for fresh blood. This week, a couple of families have been teaching kids to ride two-wheeled bikes on the cul de sac where I live. (Look, Ma, no training wheels!)
It's humbling and inspiring to see a kid take on a two-wheeler. The natural athletes imitate what they've seen, their gift for balance asserts itself, and they're off and riding within minutes.
The bike riders I most like to watch have average motor skills and above-average drive. They get the bike going but panic, wobble and fall. They restart, look back to make sure their mom or dad has a hand on the bike's rear fender, wobble and fall. They start again, misjudge speed or turn too sharply, and go down. These kids wear helmets and elbow- and knee pads, but a fall scrapes skin and pride. Some of these kids wipe away tears. Others pretend they LIKE to crash. Then they get on their bikes and try again. And again.
It's a pleasure to watch a natural athlete in action but is a bigger kick to see a child work, work, work for success. What's more, once the kids have mastered bike-riding, I can't see any difference between the naturals and the pluggers.
The takeaway for writers is that we don't have to be gifted to succeed. We do, however, have to fall and get back up again. Fall and get back up again.
Five-year-olds do it. We can, too.