My heart stopped and I held my breath as she lifted her feet off the ground and onto the pedals of her bike for the first time (sans training wheels). She made it a good 6 yards before losing her balance but she was so excited about those 6 yards that she didn’t care about the stumble at the end. The look of excitement on her face was so beautiful that I thought my heart might explode. I was surprised to discover that teaching a kid to ride a bike is fun.
It took me back to my own childhood and how much fun my brother and I had on our bikes. It was one of the closest things to experiencing freedom that we had as kids. I remember the feel of the wind in my hair as I’d pick up speed, pumping my legs faster and faster with the whirring sound of the rubber on the road. All smiles.
Not a Runner
I put off teaching her to ride because I imagined myself holding the back of her seat and running along beside her. In fact, I’d tried it. And hated it. She was frustrated and I was exhausted.
Let me tell you.
This mama doesn’t run. We went for a family walk once with storm clouds looming above us and the kids thought the idea of mama running home in the rain was funny. Because they know. This mama doesn’t run. I probably wouldn’t have, even if the rain did start pouring down (which it didn’t). But I love my baby so I tried it, hoping she’d catch on fast. She didn’t. Not before I got tired.
It’s June. And it’s hot. This mama doesn’t like to sweat either. Ew. But I still had this kid who really wanted to learn how to ride her bike.
Teaching a Kid to Ride a Bike
I removed the pedals of her bike and instructed her to propel the bike forward with her feet and when she felt balanced raise her legs up and coast as far as she could. It wasn’t the best time of day for our experiment. 3pm. June. Humid. But. I didn’t have to run along beside her, all I had to do was be there guiding and encouraging.
Now. THAT, I could do.
She was excited and for once it felt like we were on the same team. Mother and daughter out for the same mission.The daughter was determined. Stubbornly focused. Quitting was not an option. It was like she could taste that feeling of freedom that comes with bike riding and she wanted it.
Bad. So bad, that it didn’t take long before she wanted to try with the pedals back on. There’s something inside her that clicked when we did that little exercise without the pedals. It gave her the confidence she needed. It put the ball in her court. She was in control and could go unsupported when she was ready, not when mom chose to let go of the bike seat.
Freedom and Bonding
I haven’t seen her that excited about anything in a very long time and it was fun for me as a mom. She was listening to my guidance. She was smiling. We were laughing together as I recalled my own crashes and tumbles and getting tangled up in wheels, pedals and handlebars.
Teaching a kid to ride a bike is a great way to bond, if you find a way to do it that compliments both your personalities and strengths. It’s already one of my favorite memories.