Giving Your Best Effort
article by Cindy Gist Foust
Something eventful happened in my life a few weeks ago, and I have been dying to share it with the readers of BayouLife. This event will not surprise many of you that know me well, and it will give those that don’t, a glimpse into this Lucille Ball-type life I lead.
So what was so eventful? On my vacation, I biked the Golden Gate Bridge. So that’s it? I took a bike ride? I bet many of you thought I was going to say I had won a Pulitizer or that I figured out how to get chocolate stains out of white pants. No, sadly neither one of those are true, but I consider this jaunt across one of America’s most infamous landmarks to be a life changing experience for me. I know it’s hard to believe that a simple bike ride could change my perspective on my parenting skills, but it did, and not only that, the 20.84 mile bike ride also changed the way I will walk for the rest of my life. But, I digress. Yes, this metamorphic event started simply enough, a little work trip for my husband to San Francisco, two parents strolling along the Wharf in this beautiful city. Suddenly, without warning, a beautiful young girl (approximate age: 20; approximate pant size: 0) jumps in our path and begins her campaign to convince our tired, weary traveling selves that every tourist should “bike the bridge.”
Looking back, I truly think this girl should quit her job at Bay City Bikes and become a salesperson for QVC, because she was in the zone with her smooth talking, hard selling self. Yes, before we knew it, she had convinced Scott and me (mostly me) that biking the Golden Gate Bridge was on most people’s bucket lists (I mean, my bucket list includes taking a cooking class in Italy or taking a Segway through the streets of Chicago without running over someone and killing them), but hey, who am I to question this bucket list aficionado?
So, Scott and I (mostly I) threw caution to the wind, found me a store that sold Converse (very appropriate footwear I might add, for a 20 mile bike excursion) and headed to see the Zig Ziglar of bike rides to sign up for what would soon be one of the most excruciating physical experiences of my life. Now, all you trim, fit and in shape readers please reserve your judgment. But for the other 95 percent of our readers, please pass along your sympathy for this writer.
After we found our sales rep, signed up, watched the video (that shows a Barbie and Ken couple smiling broadly as they “bike the bridge” on a beautiful sunny day) and took the two-minute tutorial (from a surfer guy that basically said, “Dude, just don’t go up a hill in first gear, and you’ll be cool”) on how to ride a bike with gears, we were off. Incidentally, I haven’t owned a bike since the 6th grade…a yellow Huffy with a huge banana seat and only one gear on the handlebar, which was the brake.
So, as we drove out of the parking lot, with the surfer dude and the size 0 sales rep giving each other high-five at the suckers that just helped them make payroll, the hills were alive with the sound of music. Well, for about five minutes anyway.
Just as we made that first turn, the first landmark we encountered was Pike’s Peak (yes, I know it’s in Colorado, but this hill looked 14,000 feet tall) and began our ascension (in first gear, I might add), I began to realize the err of our ways.
For the next nearly two hours, as we pedaled and pushed our way to our destination, it dawned on me that perhaps Scott and I (mostly I) may have been duped into a biking Ponzi scheme. After the eight mile pedal to “the bridge,” I realized that I was on the cusp of checking off this very distinct and impressive accomplishment, I just didn’t realize I had another nearly two miles to go to do it.
Not to be derailed at this juncture of the journey, we pedaled on, against 70 mile an hour winds (I now look like I’ve had a face lift, but it only cost me $62 and a near death experience) across the Golden Gate Bridge. We (mostly me) did it. The only problem was, we had to get back.
So not to further bore my readers with how we arrived at our next decision (it did, however, nearly include a divorce), we began our pedal back…to the wharf…some 10 miles away. Not without some probing thoughts of course, as I made my way across that bridge, waving to all my new fans that were riding in tour buses, egging me on to victory, like I was about to win the Tour de France. Because No, my children are never far from my thoughts, I let this terrible lapse in judgment get me to thinking how I could use this experience where they were concerned.
From almost the beginning of this nightmarish excursion, my mind was filled with the deflating thought that I would never be able to do this. I convinced myself that if I would just fall off my bike and act like I was hurt, perhaps someone would call an ambulance and I would be driven back to safety. But, alas, I didn’t stop…I kept pedaling…I kept pushing toward my goal (well, it was actually the Zig Ziglar girl’s goal, but I got sucked into it).
In my nearly 17 years of parenting experience, my children have come to me many times with the same tired, deflated thoughts of self-defeat. The same “I can’t do it” attitude. Perhaps they had lost an important game, or didn’t score well on a test. Perhaps they had a friend that let them down or someone read more books than they had (is that possible as the kid of an author?). Whatever their burden has been or whatever their future crisis will be, I think our job as parents is to encourage them to press on; don’t quit; don’t give up. Let’s face it, not every child makes straight A’s, scores the touchdowns or has the best voice in the choir. The goal, however, is to be the best you can be and give it the best effort that you have, right?
As a parent, I consider it my privilege to boost and strengthen their efforts…at whatever they attempt to do. There will be failure, but there will be successes, but there will always be effort, no matter the outcome, and as a parent, I want to be that person on top of the tour bus cheering them on.
So there you have it fine readers, a Bay City Bike tour converted into a way to sharpen my parenting skills. I know my imagination never ceases to amaze you, but there is more than one lesson in this fairy of a tale: if you travel to San Francisco, resist the sales pitch of the Bay City Bike tours, and if you really want to bike the bridge, cab to the foot of the bridge and pay the $15 to bike across it. Your legs will thank you, your bottom will thank you and you will avoid blisters the size of a Buick.