Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Honk if You Know How to Ride

Last summer One of my Sons learned to ride his bike without training wheels. It was a glorious day for him. Many accolades were given and he proudly joined his sister and the million other kids forming the ranks of two-wheeled riders. His Twin, however, did not.

Though his brother sped past without the clunky-ness of 4 wheels, the other brother was perfectly content to take the slower road and keep the safety of having 4 wheels on the ground at all times.

One day this spring, one of those training wheels fell off. After a few attempts to reinstall it the wheel was still abdicating it's helpfulness on a regular basis. At that point, I told him he would just have to learn to ride his bike with the help of just one training wheel. (And to encourage the skill, I mentioned that when both boys knew how to ride without training wheels, they could have horns for their bikes.) :)

A few sniffles and whines and then he handled himself and learned to ride with just the help of the one extra wheel. It was a peculiar sight. He would actually ride down the sidewalk leaning to the left side so his training wheel stayed on the ground at all times.

Yesterday, for reasons unknown to all of mankind, I decided to let the kids ride their bikes on our walk. One Son kept lagging behind because it's kind of hard to ride when you're leaning to the left all the time. He was absolutely relying on that training wheel, instead of even trying to ride on just two wheels.

After a frustrating time of walking his bike, riding his bike, and simply melting down in tears, I took the extra wheel off. If a training wheel was gonna cause so much trouble, the kid would have to learn to do without it.

Thus began the protesting attempts to ride without that third wheel. The problem was he kept leaning to the left! He had trained his body to lean to the left while pedaling to use the training wheel. But now the very thing that had kept him from falling before was causing his detriment! To ride sitting straight up and down seemed impossible for him!

I didn't know what to try to help him. Actually, I had mentally already put this on his Daddy's list of things to do: Teach Son how to ride bike. An extenuating detail was that we were 20 minutes from home. It looked like it was going to be a long, exhausting 20 minutes for both him and me.

Until, on attempt 863 of trying it, my Son was able to ride for an entire 4 feet. 4 feet!!!!! Without me holding onto the seat of his bike. And he was almost, sort of, sitting up right. Then I was able to apply the parenting skill that comes easiest for me: Encouragement. YOU DID IT, SON!!!!!! YOU RODE YOUR BIKE ALL BY YOURSELF!!!!!! WOOOOO HOOOOO!!! YES!!! LET'S DO IT AGAIN!

And, my friends, he turned a corner. (Not a literal corner, cuz we're still just working on going straight.) And I was able to get out of my mean mommy funk that had built during the agonizing process of trying to get the kid to STOP LEANING!! THERE IS NO WHEEL THERE!!

So many life lessons in this one. Even as it was happening, I knew I'd blog it.

I'll break 'em down for you:

1. We build barriers in our lives to protect ourselves (training wheel)
2. We rely so heavily on those barriers, we actually prevent true joy (don't take training wheel off)
3. Someday, someone, somehow that barrier will need to be gone (Mommy decided today)
4. We still rely on it instead of living differently (Stop leaning to the left or you'll keep falling)
5. We get a taste, a small glimpse, of life that looks different (4 feet)
6. If you get encouraged life will seriously change for you (WOOOO HOOO!! You CAN do this!!!!)
7. JOY!!! Sense of accomplishment!!

Last night, Mark took them to buy some bike horns.


Kelly said...

Good job Mommy! Way not to give up in frustration and leave it for someone else (Mark) to do!

Amy said...

He was so excited he told me all about it right when he came over yesterday! He was beaming! And they did great by the way. We loved having them, and they even cleaned up superbly. Let's make it a more regular thing! :)

Anonymous said...


I was telling your husband this past sunday what a wonder talent you have mixing words and pictures. You should really think about writing a book. Of course I should be mentioned in the Acknowledgments for saying something. :)

Jim Peterson

Life on The Rowland Ranch said...

Ok, I'm crying now. Your seven lessons learned pierced my heart. Thanks for sharing. You are loved by me.