* Turkey and Bicycles

It’s been an eventful holiday weekend. We had a white Thanksgiving, with 6 glorious inches of snow to be thankful for! The kids and I expressed our gratitude by going sledding that morning. Sledding is probably my favorite winter fun. Yippeeee!

The feast went off without a hitch, thanks largely to my husband’s culinary skills. Me, I have no business with a dead turkey. I’ve never prepared a turkey dinner in all of my 31 years, but hey, I’m here to help! I can mash some mean potatoes, watch out. We had some pheasant too, thanks to Tyle’s skills with a shotgun. That bird was especially for me, since I had recently explained to Tyle my preference for wild meat as opposed to meat from the grocery store. He seemed to think it would be a dreadful thing for me to uphold that argument and indulge in some bird flesh. But no, it was my pleasure:)

In fact, this was the first year that I’ve eaten turkey since I gave up meat 10 years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of becoming an Atkins carnivore or anything, but I am becoming a lot less rigid in my beliefs. And besides, my testosterone-soaked household is fueled by protein. They need their man food, especially the young man-cubs. It has also occurred to me that at least some of Rio’s behavior issues may be related to nutrition, and it makes sense to reconsider his vegetarian diet. In spite of all my vigilance, I had to come to terms with the fact that peanut butter, tofu, and cottage cheese just aren’t enough for a bruiser of a kid with a high energy level and constant appetite. In addition, he exhibits some symptoms of blood-sugar issues – he tires early and suddenly, and when he’s hungry he’s not just cranky or irritable. Oh no, he is completely unable to cope with even the slightest inconvenience. He totally melts down at the first sign of frustration, moreso even than his normal meltdowns. These ones are Rio at his worst, and there’s just nothing you can do with the kid. I usually just put him in bed and shut the door, then wait for the screaming and kicking to subside and eventually he cries himself to sleep.

So, it seems logical that perhaps a high-carb vegetarian diet may not be right for Rio the Pirate King. I put him on vitamins first, a multi plus a megadose of B-12. And now I’m introducing meat into his diet, which is not as simple as it may seem. He’s resistant to unfamiliar foods and tastes. He rejected my turkey sandwiches, and snubbed his nose at our Thanksgiving birds, too. But later he gave some leftovers a try and now he’s sold on the stuff. I’m trying to get him hooked on poultry, according to my hierarchy of lesser evils. Of course if he had his druthers he’d happily engorge himself on hotdogs and chicken nuggets, *shudder*.

Rio and I did have one great triumph this weekend: Rio learned to ride a bike. Look Ma, no training wheels! And it’s even more thrilling if you know what a painful struggle it was for Rio to get past the initial difficulties. But it was his idea from the start, he decided he was ready and that gave me hope, and was probably the only thing that kept him from abandoning the idea completely. He very nearly did quit several times, when I wasn’t sure any amount of coaxing, calming, and reasoning was going to change his mind.

The first hour or so was spent doing just that – coaxing, calming, reasoning, while I persuaded Rio to try coasting. I pointed him down a gentle slope and showed him how to roll along, no pedals, feet out to the side ready to catch you when you fall. And he did, just little falls, but they triggered angry, tearful tantrums. I witnessed his frustration escalate, until every time he fell he would drop his bike and throw himself on the ground. Even the slightest wobble quickly crumpled into a heap of boy and bike.

In Rio’s world, every fall was a failure. Every fall confirmed his fear that he would not be able to do it, and that falling hurts and all he can do is fall. Finally I managed to console him, saying, “Of course you will fall. You’re supposed to fall. That’s how you learn not to fall. You can’t learn to ride until you learn to fall, silly!” It became a kind of joke. If he fell, I would smile and encourage him, “That’s right, like that! That was a good one. Nice landing this time, right?” When I got him laughing, I knew I had him.

One of Rio’s first hang-ups was that he insisted on trying to pedal before he had mastered coasting. And every time his feet went for the pedals, he would invariably lose his balance (if he ever had it) and fall. He seemed to think that if he wasn’t pedaling, he wasn’t doing it right and therefore learning to coast was not what he wanted to do. I explained to him 63 different ways that learning to balance comes before learning to pedal, and that if you can’t do the first thing (coasting), you can’t do the next thing (pedal). That’s why he was falling so much, because he was trying to do the 2nd thing without the first thing. Finally, it sunk in and he left the pedals alone. After a while, Rio was coasting. And once he was coasting, the rest was easy. Now, it’s like he’s been riding all his life. He wants to ride his bike all the time, and I’m eager to encourage him. So I’ve taken to strapping on my new freecycle rollerblades and doing laps around the parking lot across the street. It’s good fun and great exercise. Now my goal is to do it with him for a half hour everyday when we get home. It will be good for both of us.

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You might as well get used to long posts, I tend to be long-winded. I’ll do my best to post more frequently so I don’t feel as compelled to write a novella a week. I’ve realized that I still have some gaps to fill in, like all of my stepkids and that whole dynamic. I don’t think I’ve mentioned that my new husband has 7 children. More on that later, so stay tuned:)

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