So last weekend the Megan insisted I take the training wheels off her bike again. We tried this a couple months ago and it didn’t work out so well. But she was persistent and I’m a softy. Bike, sans training wheels, over my shoulder, we headed across the street and down the alley to the parking lot by the Catholic Church. It’s often empty and it’s flat and the Megan likes to ride there. I figured it was probably the best place to try this (less likely that I’ll have to fix someone’s paint job if there aren’t any cars for her to run into).
The last time we tried this I held on to her saddle. Teaching a 4 year old to ride like this is quite literally a pain in the back (and neck and butt and legs and parts I didn’t know I had). A little research led me to Sheldon Brown’s wonderful site and a useful article titled Teaching Kids to Ride. He suggests holding their shoulders instead of the saddle. This benefits the child, with a better understanding of balance, and the Daddy, with a reduced dependence on narcotics to kill the back pain.
Running in a squat, legs spread to clear the rear tire and spinning crank arms, was surely a laughable event for anyone watching. And while better than holding the saddle, it still hurt. After 10 minutes, several breaks to stretch, and endlessly trying to explain how to counter the lean of the bike, she got mad. “Daddy! You’re making me lean the wrong waaaaay! Why don’t you just let goooooo?!?!?” I was dumbstruck, thinking “this little runt could probably use a trip to the pavement”. “Ok, Megan,” I said, “I’ll get you going and then let go. I’m not going to catch you if you start to fall.” I didn’t really mean that last part. The retort, “Fine!” So I got her started and let go. And she kept going. Riding circles around me. Through the ear to ear grin and the erupting belly laugh I managed to get out a shout to Christie, who was off a ways trying to get Molly to pedal a tricycle. I think I heard her chin scraping the pavement. This was a most proud moment for us. Alas, no camera. After a few laps, Megan came to a wobbly stop, managing to keep it shiny side up.
Through her expression of elation and adrenaline infused excitement, I could tell she was thinking “I told you so.”