How a Bike-Riding Contest Challenged My Integrity

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.
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  1. TheMomChefJune 06, 2012

    Bravo! I had the same issue when I worked at Wheaton, which had a no-drinking rule. I was always prodded to 'go ahead and have just one,' by friends when we went out and I would respond that I would break my word when the situation was more important than it. Never heard another thing from them. 

  2. Nice work.  Sometimes it's those little lessons are the best lessons (and hardest to teach.)

  3. It is such a hard dilemma, especially when you have to watch your child be so disappointed after working hard to try to achieve their goal, but you are right. The lesson she learned is far more valuable. I always tell my kids that even when we work hard at something, it doesn't always work the way we want it to, but it isn't a complete flop because we have learned something valuable and will do better next time. 

  4. Thanks so much!  I agree with you wholeheartedly.  Learning that we might not always reach our goals -- even when we work really hard -- is a good lesson.  A HARD lesson, but a good one.

    Thanks for writing!

  5.  Bravo right back to you!  Well played, Mom Chef, well played.

  6. Good for you!! It's hard doing the right thing-especially when you are only one day shy. But she has learned a valuable lesson-as I'm sure you did too :-). Thanks for being such a good example.


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