On Memorial Day two years ago, I wrote a post about the way we taught Baxter to ride his bike without training wheels. It worked great and he was able to do it in a single afternoon. The process involves removing both the training wheels and the pedals and essentially creating your own balance bike (these little pedal-less bikes that have become so popular) because the idea is that once the child learns to balance himself you can then add steering and then pedaling and voila! We wished we’d known to do that earlier and vowed to try it sooner with Lyle.
Last summer we were prepared to try it with him, but he was so freaked out about the upcoming kindergarten year that he declared on an almost daily basis that he wanted to be a baby again, NOT a big boy. (Here’s some proof of that.) Therefore, instead of taking his training wheels off he went back to using his tricycle, tear-assing on that thing around the bike path like it was his job.
Fast forward to this weekend. Lyle was desperate to take his bike out to the park and learn to ride without training wheels. (Yes, he really has come a LONG way; he is also super-pumped about first grade!) And so, Matt took off the training wheels and pedals and once some massive thunderstorms had moved through, we all went to the park.
It started out pretty well.
But then things started to go downhill – and not just his bike. We saw the look on his face and knew things were taking a turn for the worse. After only a few tries we had to take a break on a bench to collect ourselves. And by “ourselves” I mean “our child”. We were kind, we were understanding, we tried to figure out what we could do differently to help him. Then we were cheerleaders, letting him know HE COULD DO IT! and YAY HOORAH HOORAY! as we walked back to the top of the rise.
I really wanted Lyle to try again, not because I care if he learns to ride his bike without training wheels this summer but because I know him – and I was pretty sure that if he left the park without some sense of success it would be a very long time before he would attempt it again. But he would not try again. The training wheels went back on.
On the walk home he and I talked about it. I praised him for trying and being so brave, and reminded him of all the times he picked his feet up off the ground. Lyle confessed that he thought it was going to be easy – I’m sure it looks that way when other people do it. His expectations were too high. I explained to him that when Baxter did it he learned so quickly because he was 7 1/2 – a full two years older than Lyle is. That seemed to help a bit.
We’ll see if he’ll try anytime soon but we made sure he knew that anytime he wants to attempt it again we’ll take the training wheels off. In the meantime I’m focusing on how many ways Lyle has come out of his shell this past year and moved out of his comfort zone. Only he can control that, and that’s the way it should be. The rest of us just need to sit tight and enjoy the ride.