Don’t push the river

Confession: My oldest daughter learned to tie her own shoes and ride her own bike when she was five.

The next one didn’t learn until she was SEVEN.  *gasp*

You heard me: seven.

She wasn’t ready.  Every time I’d try to teach her, then coerce, then force her to learn either one, she’d break down into genuine tears of discouragement, sobs of “I just can’t,” etc.

The week we finally decided to unschool, it was like a breath of fresh air through blew through the house.  The kids felt free…it was like watching them shake off their shackles.

A mere three days into it, a remarkable thing happened.  My seven-year-old came to me and said, “Mom, can you help me learn to tie my shoes?  Then I’m going out to ride my bike and I’m going to do it today.”


I was dumbfounded.  My girl who had resisted every push and prod with extreme prejudice was coming to me now.  She learned to tie her shoes, finally, in less than ten minutes.

And yes, she rode her bike that day, too.

She was ready.  She knew she was ready, and she wanted it, and it happened.  No pushing, pulling, yelling, or bribing needed.  (No comparing, either.)  She kept pedaling with her self-shod feet, and I could hear her say over and over, “I can do this. I can do this.”

She was elated, and it was the absolute confirmation that I had been needing that we were finally, finally on the right path.

“Don’t push the river.  It flows all by itself.” – Barry Stevens