My daughter watches, as her friends do things with ease: they open snacks, they button their coats, they ride their bikes without training wheels. These are things that don’t come easy to her. She is 7 and she has some challenges with motor planning, the way her brain tells her body when and where to move. She is aware that she is doing some things at a different pace than many of her friends. Sometimes, even her little brother reaches milestones that she still struggles with.
We talk a lot about how normal and okay that is. All babies learn to walk at different times: Some are on the go by 10 months, others at 15 or more. And we all have to work harder at some things. We tell her that she can–and will–get to the same place as her friends, eventually. She may have to work harder, but she will get there. We often turn to books and movies that have characters who persevere and reach their goals, to inspire her. Our most recent inspiration: Monsters University.
In this prequel to Monsters, Inc., Mike Wazowski, the little green guy who is all eyeball, heads to college, intent on being a professional scarer. He works very hard, hitting the books constantly and practicing his scaring techniques. Enter James “Sully” Sullivan, the big, furry, blue monster. He barely cracks a book and fully expects to coast through college on his family’s reputation as famed professional scarers.
Much like Mike, my daughter has to work harder. She watches her friends, like Mike watches Sully, as they navigate things with ease. And sometimes, she gets scared and she gives up.
That’s what happened with the training wheels.
She insisted she was okay with still using her training wheels. She was afraid to fall, afraid she would not be able to balance her bike. So she settled in with her pink princess bike and it’s training wheels. And she grew bigger. Age 5 turned to 6 and she outgrew the bike. We bought a larger bike, with another set of training wheels. And she was content for another year.
Soon, her younger brother began to take an interest in riding his bike without training wheels. She watched him practice. Then one day, her training wheels broke. I had a hunch. I asked my husband to take them off the bike and sort of not get around to replacing them. I thought maybe if I could get her on the bike without them, assuring her that I would not let go unless she wanted me to, that maybe, just maybe we could start working on this.
But then I hurt my foot and I could do nothing but sit in the driveway while the kids played outside. Little brother, seeing that I was out of commission, asked Big Brother for help riding his bike without training wheels. And Big Brother dutifully walked Little Brother up and down the street, back and forth, helping him practice to balance his bike. It was completely adorable.
Then my daughter asked Big Brother to help her, too. Oh, my, I thought. This isn’t going to go well. These two are rivals and this plan, I feared, was bound to end poorly. But I saw something new on my daughter’s face. She was not afraid. She could see the goal.
And as her brother held on to her handlebars, she wobbled and wiggled and soon fell, onto the grass. She was afraid again and said she was done. But then, Big Brother stepped up. He isn’t always her biggest cheerleader, but that day he was. Come on, you can do it.
He encouraged her to believe in herself. That made all the difference. In twenty minutes –yes, twenty minutes– she was riding that bike by herself. She was wobbling, but she didn’t fall and she wasn’t afraid. In fact, she was grinning from ear to ear.She got there!
Mike and Sully got there, too. They wanted to be professional scarers but college didn’t quite work out. Instead, they started in the mail room at Monsters, Inc. and worked their way up to their original goal with perseverance.
Much like the Mike/Sully partnership, my daughter needed three things to succeed:
- She worked hard. Very hard.
- She had a friend to help. A friend who seemed unlikely at first, her Big Brother.
- She took a different path than many kids her age, but she got there.
She hasn’t looked back. The next day she worked on using her brakes and turning and pretty soon she was riding in circles, riding fast and slow, zooming up and down the street.
I’m proud to be a part of Walt Disney Studio’s Believe in Yourself, Never Give Up on Your Dreams campaign. Monsters University is coming!
You can own it first on digital HD 10/8/13 and Blu-ray ™ Combo Pack 10/29/13.
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