(originally posted 7/31/2009)

Last night, Thing 2 mastered riding her bike without training wheels.

Personally, I had begun to suspect that she’d never master riding her bike WITH the training wheels.  She was so afraid of falling that she would sit all the way off to one side so that she could jump off if the bike started to tip.  Well, of course the minute she went onto ground that wasn’t level or she tried to turn, the bike would tip.  All the weight was to one side.  And she would topple over,  Although she would be on her side, seeing her on the ground somehow always made me think of a turtle on its back.

I had really given up hope with her.  I’d gotten to the point where I’d just start yelling at her to sit properly on her bike.  I was tired of running up and down the driveway holding her upright.  And she would lean all the way to the left side and she’s heavy and she was just fighting me.  It was frustrating and it was totally messing up my back.  She’s almost 8 and she’s TALL (about a head taller than most kids her age).   And really, how hurt could she possibly get?  She’s got the helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, and wrist pads.  The only way she could be more protected is if we’d covered her in bubble wrap.

Anyway, my husband is far smarter than I and realized that she leaned to one side not from a brain defect, but because she didn’t realize that she could just put her feet down if she started to fall.  See, it didn’t occur to her that she could just stop, she was prepared to jump off.  Once my husband took over for a while, she started getting used to using the brakes to slow down and putting her feet down to keep from falling.  Then we’d stand at opposite ends of the driveway and send her back and forth between us.

Last night, Thing 2 got tired of waiting for us to finish our after-dinner-coffee and come out for our evening torture (of standing there sending her back and forth between us) and decided she’d try starting off on her own.

And she did it!  All by herself!  We need to work on the steering (I’m sure the neighbors will appreciate it if she stops driving all over their lawns), but we’re getting there. It’s taken three weeks of intensive work, but she’s finally got the basics down.  She probably wouldn’t even be trying right now, but I bought her a new bike.  It’s a boys BMX style bike with pegs on the front and back wheels.  Thing 2 is quite the tomboy and the lure of bmx biking tricks was the motivation for learning.

Finally!  Two down (two kids can ride without training wheels), one more to go.  Oh, and the Monkey King (the one who still uses training wheels) sees this as a challenge.  I promised him that Sunday we’ll take off his training wheels and start working with him.  He is so cute with his skateboard helmet, all his skateboard pads (just like Thing 2 has)  and his little red bike.  Teaching him is going to suck because I’ll have to bend down so far to hold his bike up.  But if I teach him, I’ll be done, done, done!

Learning to ride without training wheels is such a big milestone in childhood.  I still remember my first big girls’ bike.  It had a banana seat and streamers.  I remember my dad, still in his work clothes (button down shirt and tie even in the summer) running up and down the driveway with me.  I wonder how he remembers it.  Maybe I’ll call him later and ask him.


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