Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bike Riding Ruminations

"It's like riding a bike"...

How many times do you hear that expression? I can think of so many things that have that adage attached at the tail end.

Haven't knitted in awhile and you're afraid you've forgotten how? Why, it's like riding a bike! You'll remember in no time.

What's that you say? You've been wearing slip on shoes for so long that you think you've forgotten how to tie your sneaker laces? Pe-shaw! It's like riding a bike! Tie away, laddy, tie away.

But have you ever stopped to wonder what happens for the people who can't ride a bike? Hmmmm? Where's the hope for those poor souls, I ask you? Will they remember the old knit-purl combo, or will they just go scarf-less? Will they need to watch an instructional video reminding them about the little bunny jumping through the hole, or are they destined to shuffle around with forever untied shoes laces?

Needless to say, our own summer project, aptly named, "Get Those Girls Riding Their Bikes Because It's Just About Time, Don't You Think?", has not been going quite so well.

Rest assured, we've made some progresses; small, incremental steps that have taken us away from the horrifying side wipe outs that were so definitive of our first attempts with them. But such success have been few and far between.

And we've tried....everything. Oh, how we've tried.

First we took off their training wheels when we realized that they weren't so much helping the girls learn to balance as they were causing a constant safety hazard on their bikes, which are 20 inch bikes that just do not work well with training wheels. Off they went. And any hope we had that our offspring would miraculously summon their sense of inner balance crashed to the pavement right along with them.

Next we tried putting towels around their bellies and under their arms, holding them together at their backs as we ran along beside them. This step gave us the most progress, I must say, but after awhile, each girl was just sort of wobbling along, waiting for her "Towel Holding Parent" to yank her back up just before she fell over completely. We became a handy crutch, you might say. And have you any idea just how heavy it gets to hold your peddling child up by a towel as she speeds along the sidewalk while you clamor beside her, often times pushed awkwardly into the grass, desperately trying to keep your own footing, because you are fully aware that if you go down, she goes down. And whose fault would that be? Hmm? (My arms have gained a certain She-Ra-ish build to them though).

We are now at the stage we call: "Off You Go, My Child". The girls know it better as: "Pedal Or Fall". We take them out into a big field, get them situated on their bikes, give 'em a push, bid them farewell, and let them go. See ya, sweeties! (Pedal or fall now, you hear?) And it's true: she who pedals, stays aloft on that crazy two wheeled contraption; meanwhile, she who tries to coast along on gravity's good graces tends to fall.

Caedance is making great strides with this particular method, saving her great crashing skills for when she doesn't like the direction she's going in, or determines she's going to fast. When it doubt, fling yourself from your still moving bike, folks.

Ashlyn continues to stubbornly refuse this particular mode of transportation. I'm not sure she honestly sees the point in it. Why pedal anywhere, really, when you can run, or skip, or gallop? Pedaling is for suckers! She tends to spend her quality practice time demonstrating her own savvy techniques for ditching her bike. She's perfected the roll over fall, whereby she tosses herself off the bike while still holding onto it, thus encouraging it fall on her as she rolls. After The Event, she lays very still, muttering to herself, "Well, well, well, well." We continue to teach to her the value and virtue of utilizing her bike's brakes.

We continue to work towards our ultimate goal of having honest to goodness Bike Riding Kids, but most days it feels like an uphill battle with them. Along the way, we've heard interesting input from a variety of parenting resources, most of which serves only to make us truly suspect that our children may in fact be the last nearly 7 year old non-bikers on the face of this planet. Uh-huh. True-sies.

I've politely nodded at the parent who insisted her balancing genius knew how to ride the bike the moment he sat up on it. (Well, bully for you, lady. My kids don't.)

I've smiled at the mom who regaled us with the tale of the 3 nights it took her daughter to have 2 wheeled success. (So what if we're going on a year of training drudgery?)

And tonight I watched, incredulous, as a 4 year old neighbor sped by us on his two wheeled steed, stopping in front of us to off load himself from Old Blue and take his ipod buds out of his ears, giving us a chin nod as we went by. (Alrighty then).

Honestly, do my kids really have to ride a bike? Isn't it enough that they can both swing now? Can't we just call that this summer's grand accomplishment? What do you say?

Oh, I know. We'll keep trucking away at it. Don't worry. They'll get there. And if you happen upon our neighborhood one night and maybe see two little sprites with rabbit ears on their helmets making grand crashes in the grassy knolls and laughing with glee while they're parents look on with dejected, furrowed brows; well, you'll know that's us.

And remember, no matter how off balance and wobbly they may look today, they were probably much worse yesterday. And just think of where they might be tomorrow.

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