When Training Wheels Come Off

To kick off summer, T scored his first bloody busted upper lip after a biking accident.

But let’s rewind a week to the morning of the same day T marched in the Pride parade for the first time – when the hubby took him out on his bike.

The bike was a gift from his Ama, my mom, when he was 3. Last summer, he showed a one-day interest in trying to figure it out. Then moved on.

So a year later, it was a big deal when the training wheels came off.

T was reluctant at first, struggling as we all do with balance, but once he overcame his anxiety and figured it out, he quickly enjoyed it!

He even came inside the house looking for me so he could proudly tell me.

Every day since, T’s been going out on his bike, practicing.

We even took it with us to our overnight trip to Elora. Look at him zip here at Elora Quarry. We could not feel more proud.

As parents of a child with FASD, an invisible disability, we serve as his ongoing training wheels.

We’re his external brain to help navigate the world around him – advocating, educating, raising awareness, translating.

Thankfully, these training wheels also exist in community – like community supports, therapists – and in school, they’re the IEPs and most importantly, the Child Youth Workers and teachers.

The goal is to always move T towards independence, when we’re able to take off the wheels, but also understand that wheels may need to go back and stay on in certain contextes.

This is hardest part of the FASD parenting journey – it feel like our wheels are constantly spinning or the rubber is burnt thin but we still gotta keep cycling.

But it’s also incredibly rewarding when we experience the payoffs through T’s eyes.

Despite the ups and downs of the school year – some of which was beyond anyone’s control – T ended off on a high, with many successes, including an A on his report card (for science) and improvements across all subjects including B+ for gym, music and art, subjects he struggled with participating in during previous years.

We are so proud of him and most importantly, he is proud of himself.

And the areas he still needs to improve on – like emotional regulation, collaboration – we’ll keep the training wheels on… and burning rubber. 😆🤣

It’s important to teach T to get back up when he falls, figuratively and literally.

On Monday night, as I was preparing dinner, the hubby texted me to prepare wet paper towels to meet T at the door because he had fallen off his bike and was bleeding a lot.

In T’s words, “It looked like a murder scene!”

It wasn’t quite as harrowing as that, but there was a lot of blood on the pavement and T’s upper lip was busted up.

The hubby said T was hesitant to go back on the bike after his accident but after some gentle encouragement, he got back on like a pro.

And we told him we’re very proud that he did that!

He will continue to have many more falls, figurative and literal, and it’s all about getting back up and learning to avoid those falls in the future.

And to have a sense of humour about things.

T’s lips became quite puffy and I told him he looked like a Kardashian.

He didn’t find the joke as funny as I did.

32 thoughts on “When Training Wheels Come Off

  1. Beautiful post Ab – love love the training wells analogy. T is doing so well. You should be proud of him and of yourselves. You and the hubby are both clearly doing such a good job. That’s quite the lip scene. I had a similar encounter when I was young. Fell off my bike and somehow managed to find a piece of glass that went through my lower lip. I have no memory of it – apparently quite a lot of blood too! Glad to hear he got back up. No greater lesson than that. That is what life is all about. Wishing you all well Ab 🙏

    1. Thanks AP. We’re very proud of him indeed. It’s not an easy road on some days but we’re thankful for his growth. 🙂 The lip is healing nicely a week later and makes a great story. But yes, it can be quite traumatic. But thankfully not a glass though. Yikes, that must’ve been quite painful!!! 🫢 Glad you lived to tell the tale! 😃

    1. Thanks Faith. The Kardashian family does provide an endless source of humour. And glad you never gave up either. Off to more bike riding this morning.

  2. Glad to hear that T gave his bike another try and was able to overcome his anxiety of peddling without the training wheels. The lesson of getting back up when you fall is something we’ve all been through – with life in general and for anyone that’s ever ridden a bike! And that’s amazing to hear that T finished the school year on a high note. I couldn’t help but laugh at your comment about T’s swollen lips and how he looked like a Kardashian!

    1. Thanks Linda. The lip is not so bad now. Swelling is gone and it’s just a dark scab now. Hopefully it’ll heal fully in no time. 🙂

      Hope you enjoy your weekend! It’s a stay in town one for us but headed to Killarney next weekend!

      1. It’s a stay in town weekend for us too. That’s exciting that you’ll be visiting Killarney next weekend! It’s one of my favourite parks in Ontario. We were just there earlier in May. Enjoy the scenery. Hopefully the bugs won’t be too bad.

  3. Oh my. You know, at first as I started reading this I was like, awww poor T! But then when I came to the part when he said it looked like a murder scene, I couldn’t help but laugh! Falling and bleeding are a part of growing up, aren’t they? They may cause trauma, but they also provide a good lesson on how to overcome our bad experiences and not to let them limit our lives.

    1. Thanks Bama. You have to just laugh sometimes at things that happen in your day. The best way to cope and move on. 😆 He’s back to zipping down with his bike now and thankfully is more careful around the turns.

  4. Congrats to T! He must be so proud of himself! The lip looks pretty bad, but he’s such a trooper to get back on the bike and try again.

    1. Thank you, Erin! The lip thing was quite traumatic when it happened but we’re proud of how he got up! And so was he.

  5. OUCH!!!! That looks painful! At least nothing is broken, though, and it didn’t require a trip to the hospital, as most of my early biking accidents did! Hugs to you all!!!

    1. Thanks Margie. I don’t think he knows what a Kardashian is yet but instinctively got annoyed when I mentioned it. Haha.

  6. What a trooper he is! That lip looks puffy and bloody alright! I love his calling it a murder scene lol. Our brains like to embellish…alot lol.

  7. Love how you tied all this together Ab! That’s some lip trauma, but congrats to T for jumping back on the bike. I still remember a million years ago, after a pretty major crash not long after the training wheels came off, I refused to get back on my bike. At some point I taught myself… finally. I remember doing it on grass though 😉

    1. Thank you Deb. I can definitely see how this can be traumatizing and how it can take a while to get back on. And I’m glad and proud he did… and the same for you! Starting on the grass is a good approach! 😆

  8. That’s a funny Kardashian joke, Ab! Yowser – that’s a bloody lip. Sorry about the accident but I love your metaphor of parents and other caregivers as training wheels. Thank goodness for those many ways we guide and hold each other upright! Glad T is back on the bike – you all prove your resilience again and again!

    1. Thanks Wynne. That’s what we are to our kids, training wheels, and just as our parents were before us. 😊

  9. I hear your struggle and your conquests. Not FASD but Autism here. My son was late to riding a bike. Then learned. His cousin, who had teased him the year before because he couldn’t ride a bike and couldn’t catch him running on foot, had a race while visiting grandpa. We ended up on emergency and 8 stitches later, he was so proud of himself for beating his cousin on a bike. Life is different with special kids. But sharing together, we stay strong because we don’t feel alone. Keep sharing.

    1. Thank you Gina for visiting and commenting! I’m learning more about Autism the last few years and I definitely see parallels between the two, including in my son’s case, continued tiptoe walking.

      The story of your son and cousin resonates with me. I thought about it last night when we were back out as a kid goaded T into a race. Thankfully nothing happened other than fun. But I can only imagine the worry of the hospital visit and 8 stitches. Yikes! But I can also imagine the pride of beating his cousin. 😊

  10. Wow, congratulations to T on the bike riding. So very cool. Love that it’s an activity that gives him some control (ie, he might have some way to go on other areas, but he can still come back to bike riding and have that same level of freedom that riding a bike offers.) And I love the training wheels analogy, really helps see how life is. And by the way, we all need our training wheels, even those of us not diagnosed with a long abbreviation. We just don’t always know it. Anyway, thanks for the great post.

    1. Thanks Brian! You said it best, it’s good to give our kids activities that they can excel in and feel good about to help boost the confidence to tackle the areas where they need a bit more help with.

      And yes, we all need training wheels for sure, at all stages in our lives. A good reminder that it’s also ok to seek and to have them. 🙏

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