Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Two Wheels

Big milestone in our house this month has been Madison dropping the training wheels on her bicycle in favor of a lifetime of two-wheel transportation. She tried it a couple of weeks ago – her idea – and basically got the hang of it. We had the “Kramer vs. Kramer” moment where the parent holds the bike and runs with the child and ultimately lets go with words of affirmation and encouragement. Mine were, “Madison, you’re doing it! You’re doing it! You’re riding by yourself,” which were met with giddy laughter, faster pedaling and a clear sense of personal astonishment and pride.

I spent about an hour out in front of our house that Saturday afternoon running with her, releasing my grip on the back of the bike and then jogging along so I would be in position to break any fall. There were a few bumps and bruises, her legs got a little scraped, but she never really lost it or face-planted into the pavement, which we were thankful for.

Last weekend she barely needed me to stabilize the bike or give her a running start, and by the end of our relatively brief session she was properly placing her feet on the pedals, getting herself going and stopping without any parental intervention. Really a great example of an early childhood development that forever changes the way something is done, there’s no backsliding from this. Just a few days ago, Madison couldn’t ride a bike without training wheels, and now she can.

It’s also one of the few passages I can think of that actually, physically, involves a parent or caregiver letting go and allowing the child to strike out on their own, more or less at their own peril. We can run alongside for a while, but ultimately it’s their bike, their pedals, their feet, and the road.

I asked Madison this morning why she was excited about this new ability and, without hesitation, she said, “Because now I can ride with the big girls in the neighborhood!”

Umm, where did we put those training wheels again?


[There she goes... Madison rides off to greet her training-wheel-free world.]

[And Ava... shielded and protected from the hazards of asphalt (and the world) for hopefully another summer or two.]


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