I remember learning to ride my own two wheeler (thirty years ago!), it was a little blue bike with a white wicker basket. Our driveway in the suburbs of Montreal was slightly sloped and ran over a grassy ditch. Biking down the driveway was terrifying as I thought I’d tip into the ditch, but riding up the slope gave me confidence and held the bike up straighter. I’d walk down the driveway and ride back up practising and practising.
Our oldest daughter wanted to remove the training wheels because her friends are on two-wheelers, not because she was really motivated to ride. Her four year old brother on the other hand, is a born-to-bike kid.
He loves the wind and speed he gathers on his bicycle and virtually skipped the tricycle stage to go straight to a bike with training wheels. The loud scraping/rolling of those training wheels are a constant sound in our court as he whips around the sidewalk steering around any obstacles, human or otherwise. He’s the one begging with the passion to rip off the training wheels while his older sister is doing it out of delayed peer pressure.
My dedicated husband spent the day rotating between kids and running alongside while holding/guiding their seats. He’s in good shape but sweating, his back already killing from running in that bent over fashion. I’m thrilled to be the photographer and watch from the sidelines while minding our toddler. There are 2 other kids on our street with dads running along their bikes this weekend too in our unofficial neighbourhood two-wheeler training.
I have no recollection of my dad holding my bike to keep me up, I’m sure he simply took the trainers off and set me free to practise and find my balance (in the no helmet days too!). Supportive as he was, I have a feeling most of my dad’s help was verbal, likely the same as every other dad on my street.
Today, there are companies to teach your kid to ride a bike. Other parents swear by them. Initially daunted by the idea of two kids learning at once, I floated the idea of bike school past my husband but he flat out refused. He sees this task as one of his cardinal rights as a parent – to teach his kids to ride a bike.
He’s right. Not only is it a milestone for the kids but for us as parents, a true symbol of how ‘letting go’ can be good for our kids. Allowing them the freedom to glide on their own, balance and steer themselves and hopefully remember the rules we’ve taught them. If they fall, help them get up but then teach them to independently pick themselves up and try again.
As in life, those who keep on pedaling no matter what, succeed. Instead of coasting, some power in your pedals doesn’t hurt either. Who else can teach our kids these fundamental life lessons but us?
As parents, we’re the best teachers.
Such big lessons, character building lessons for my young 4 and 6 year old. These milestones catch me off guard every single time. I get continually choked up watching our kids achieve things that I recall doing myself. It is so surreal.
Two wheelers represent freedom. The ability to scoot away fast and slip off quietly without the grating sound of the trainers tattling. I worry that especially my son is too young for a two wheeler, too carefree and unaware of the reality in the same way some babies who walk before they are developmentally ready to understand their surroundings. It makes me sick to my stomach as well as proud, so proud, of him.
Today, sigh, as I snapped pictures of their first pedals without a hand on their seat, I sensed our parental release. It’s the first step to letting go and allowing them to grow without us. Another bittersweet moment come too soon.
The training wheels are left behind, in a pile, like a piece of childhood removed.
Tonight during bedtime snuggles, I snuggled extra long with my uber-exhausted kids. One day, the nightly bedtime story and snuggle will be cast away too, just like the training wheels.