Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The bicycle

A long time ago, it seems, we bought our little girl a bicycle. We got it at a garage sale, and it was a little big for her, but we thought it was time she had a bicycle. We got training wheels for it, too.

That first year it was just too big. The second year it was a better fit but felt tippy even with the training wheels so she really didn't like riding it. The third year the training wheels came off but it was too hard to learn, and I was too impatient and mean to her, and... she didn't learn to ride. And we moved, so there wasn't a lot of bike time. The fourth year she just ignored the bike. We didn't ask her about riding it.

Now it's the fifth year. The girl is 11. She decided last week that it's time to ride the bike. So we went to a local school during spring break and she tried to ride around. I remembered her comments about my past meanness so I tried extra hard to be patient. She made a little progress. We went back the next day but our time was cut short by a scraped knee. Then we went away for the weekend and didn't get back on the bike.

Tonight we went back out for the first time in 5 days. She got up on the bike and started. And she was off. No more wobbling. No more falling. She figured out how to brake and stopped dragging her feet on the ground. She's got it.

There is a lesson here. I learn it over and over but it never takes.

Some things just don't work until the child is ready. We can try and try and try all we want, and force the child to try too, but sometimes it just won't take till the child is ready for it. This could be reading, or swimming, or riding a bike. Mastering multiplication. Whatever.

I have no idea why my graceful, athletic child had such trouble with the bike. I do know it bothered me that she was "so old" to be a nonrider. Forget that I had not learned to ride till I was just a little younger than she is now. I didn't have a bike. She has had one for a long time. But it didn't matter. She couldn't or wouldn't learn till she was ready. And once she was ready, she flew.

Of course she will need a new bike soon. We think we can squeak out the rest of this summer with the current bike. She doesn't care that it's not new, that it came from a garage sale, that it only cost us a dollar. She is happy to be riding, finally.


Birdie said...

Beautifully said. Thank you for the reminder.

G said...

That's a good lesson to keep in mind, especially since my 7 year old is showing little interest in actually learning to read...

I remember too that my ds learned bicycle riding much the same way. We tried off and on a few times, with little success, then one day he was off!

DADvocate said...

Learning to ride a bike is an intriguing thing. Some pick it up easily and others not so much. I've never determined a definite reason why. Most people in my family learned around ages 5-6.

BUT! This brings me to one of my favorite stories. At age 7 my oldest son was going to ride with the decorated bicycle group in our small town 4th of July parade. My younger son, age 3 years and 3 months, was determined he was going to ride also. However the parade had a rule that no training wheels were allowed and no three wheeled trikes of any sort.

On July 3, my youngest son had me take him out in the driveway and teach him how to ride, which consisted of my putting him on the bike, holding on for a moment and then letting go and telling him, "Try not to fall over."

He was amazingly determined and after an hour and a half could ride a bike although he hadn't quite mastered the brakes. The next day I jogged along beside him for 2 miles in the parade making sure he didn't ride under a float or something.

I guess, sometimes, it's just how bad you want it.

Congrats to your daughter though. I'm sure her brace made it at least a little more difficult.