During the month of May, my daughter's school challenged its students to ride their bikes for 15 minutes per day for at least 20 days. This challenge doesn't seem that arduous until you factor in homework, dinner preparations, soccer practices, the 14 rainy days during the month, and the general forgetfulness experienced by both parents and offspring that results in a pajama-clad and just-tooth-brushed child lying in bed at night who suddenly announces with great angst, "I never rode my bike today!"
Considering all this, it's amazing that she made it to 19 days. And there's the rub. She made it to 19 days, not 20 days. She missed the cut-off by one measly day.
Gone was the chance that she'd be picked for the gift card or the free ice cream cone.
For a moment, my judgment was clouded. Couldn't I have her double-up and ride for 30 minutes on the last day? That would count for an additional day, right? Wouldn't it be understandable if I'd scratch off an extra day in May as long as she rode on the first day of June?
Then I caught myself. I was almost about to let a bike-riding challenge steal my integrity -- in front of my daughter, no less. What in the world would I be teaching her if I bent the rules like this? Certainly not what I want to be teaching her.
So, I told her that she did a good job. Then I told her that she'd have another shot next year. Although disappointed, she nodded and agreed.
In this moment, what she gained was a lot more valuable than a gift card.