This is a picture of E after having just been presented with his new bike. E has been obsessed with BMX biking for over one year. He began looking for a BMX bike last winter on the internet. E has champagne taste on his parent’s beer budget and thus was looking at bikes that cost in excess of $250. In the spring Tom bought him a bike on Craig’s list. E promptly destroyed the bike in an effort to make it into something that it was not.
E loves to rebuild things so I enrolled him in a bike making class this summer. He spent 15 hours at The Bike Depot in St. Paul learning how to build and repair bikes. Before the class even began, E decided that he would not like the class because the bikes wouldn’t be the “right kind.”Needless to say, E left the bike making class without a bike. He deliberately chose to help another kid with his bike rather than make a “lame one.”
E was not moved by my argument that a “lame” bike could get him from point A to point B just as easily as a “cool” bike. Fast forward to Christmas. Tom had done his research by looking at the bikes that E had bookmarked on the computer and talking to E’s BMX pals. Tom bought a $300 like new bike on Craig’s list for $100. It is in fact the same bike that E wanted to buy from his friend a few months back. So how do you think E reacted? Drum roll please…. It’s no good. E sent his dad a Facebook message earlier today stating that since he cannot do a 180 on the bike, it is the wrong kind. He has resumed looking for an alternative bike.
E is unwilling to entertain the idea that there isn’t a bike out there that is going to give him the BMX talent that he pitifully lacks. His fantasy, which he had spent months nurturing, of becoming a professional BMX bike rider complete with sponsors was shattered by the red bike standing in our living room.
Reality and its limitations is hitting E hard. It is difficult for me to be supportive when he takes what we give him and throws it back in our faces. I know intellectually that E is trying to fill a hole that can never be filled. The hole was caused by a mother who drank while she was pregnant and the complex trauma that he endured during the first 6 years of his young life. That having been said it still sucks and wears me down knowing that nothing that we do on his behalf will ever be perceived by E as good enough.