Soon my son will turn 10. He’s been on the bike since he could walk. Maybe sooner. I don’t push him but I offer him opportunities. He’s done half-a-dozen races over the years. He suffers for them the way a young boy does. Results never meet his expectations. The causality of training and performance are, as of yet, abstract concepts.
I don’t push him but the sport is his for the taking. It’s in his blood and genes. And he’s stubborn enough to be good at it if he decides he wants it. I don’t push him, but he can see what it takes by watching me. A while back I was listening to a Freakonomics podcast “The Economist’s Guide to Parenting.” One of the points they made was that you’re far more likley to affect your children by modeling the behavior you’d like to see in them, as opposed to telling them how to be. I think about this often when I’m working out and my son is complaining, “I wish I had a normal Dad who didn’t exercise all the time.” He sees commitment, discipline, healthy living. He sees how much work it takes and what the payoffs can be.
On Thursday, he rode alongside me while I did rollerski intervals up the hill on Comm Ave, helping keep count of the repeats (although he was always 2 or 3 ahead, “Are you done yet? This is the last one, right?”). He kept pace with me for the first 5, then he said he’d rather just watch me do the rest. We were both pretty tired by the end of the session.
On Sunday, he helped me overhaul the suspension fork on my old Ibis mountain bike and we road the trails around our neighborhood. He wanted to take the lead. I watched him roll away up the trail and attack a small hill. He struggled a little with the gearing to make it over the crest, then he was off again.
Pretty soon, I’m going to have a real training partner. And too quickly thereafter, I’ll struggle to keep up with him. I have to get a bit of a head start while I still can.