Two Wheels

There are a few things I want my child to be able to do. I want her to know how to drive so that she can get to and from a job when she’s not near a bus stop. Or, deliver pizzas, or papers, or people. I want her to know how to swim so when she gets invited on the once in a lifetime trip to explore a remote island she’s not the only one sunning instead of snorkeling. I also want her to not drown. I want her to know how to read, cook, and be gracious so that when she cooks for her future mother-in-law from one of my old cookbooks, she’ll be able to handle both compliments and grimaces with grace. I want her to know how to ride a bike for those two years in the Peace Corps where it’s the fastest, easiest mode of transportation to the next village. If she never does any of these things, she’ll still be able to rent a bike with her sweetheart and pedal through a park, take a dip with her kids in the city pool, read a trashy novel or five, feed herself, know how to say thank you, and have the most typical sort of photo id.

I did not think she was going to swim and she did. I certainly didn’t think I’d be able to watch her confidently mix a blueberry pie and crimp the edges. I knew she could read and she’s undeniably charming most of the time. Biking, though. I was pretty sure it was never going to happen.

First she couldn’t figure out how to pedal. She went backward when she meant to go forward. She braked when she meant to fly. Her feet, nearly always on tiptoe, were bent back to push but the push never happened. Meanwhile, she couldn’t steer. Her eyes were glued to her stubborn feet and she teetered into cars and trees at agonizingly slow speed. Even equipped with training wheels, she couldn’t balance. This child, who can cartwheel off of a balance beam and scramble down a tree limb with abandon. The pedal scraped her leg when she pushed the bike. The front wheel spun around and bit her hand. Last summer she gave up. I would have, too.

We tried it again recently and it went much better. As an almost nine year old, she’s acutely aware that her peers can ride while she’s just (very fast) on a scooter. The balance was better. The pedaling still eluded her. She got another scrape and the front wheel waggled at her. She braked when she wanted to go and went when she wanted to brake. We called in her Fake Uncle and put him to the task. Maybe it was me. Maybe she would ride for someone else.

It took 30 minutes. I watched while he ran with her and pushed her. I watched as she flew out of his hands and pedaled around the parking lot as if she had done it her whole life. She never once fell over, although she did crash into a curb requiring one bandaid to certify the crash happened. She might not have needed the bandaid but she was so happy to get the first one out of the way, she threw out our favorite phrase*.

It was so easy for her once she got a glimpse of what it would take. And so, we can check off another Life Skill.

*I suppose I didn’t mention that we bought a car (a brand new, never been driven car) in December and, having had it 5 days, someone hit it in a parking lot. It was parked at the time and the hitter, Kim, left a note (thank goodness). Her insurance covered the whole thing, the car looks like new, we’re still very wounded about the it, but we have spent the better part of the last three months saying well, at least we got the first one out of the way.

One Response

  1. BRAVO! i’m not sure mine ever really learned to ride a bike. Which now that I consider it, is probably why she is not keen on learning to drive either. At least most of her friends are driving, so they can schlep her now.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: