One year in apple-blossom and flowering Dogwood time I glanced out the window to see my neighbor Dave conducting a sacred rite of passage. He was teaching his little girl to ride her bike without training wheels. I got a lump in my throat at the sweetness of the memory of teaching my three older daughters to ride their bikes. I only have one left to teach, after that it will be my grand daughters by God’s good grace.
Dave was teaching his daughter to ride her bike out in the street. Not a bad idea but not the best plan either. I am a man of great experience and no small success at this matter of teaching daughters to ride their bikes without training wheels.
Here’s the way I do it. First I take off the training wheels, then I position the little bike at the top of a gentle slope in the lawn. I make sure the grass is high enough to provide a little cushion for the inevitable fall. Then I give the bike the slightest little push. Usually your little girl will peddle for a while as she learns to balance herself. When she starts to lose momentum she will usually tip over but she will be going slowly enough that she can often just step off her bike or if she falls it will be a tumble into soft, fragrant green grass.
At first I chase behind her and I am there to pick her up and laugh with her when she falls. Later I will stand at the top of the slope and holler, “Great job. Let’s do it again and well get mom. She won’t believe what you can do.” Or you can shout, “Wow, that was great. Do it again and we’ll call grandma. I can’t believe how fast you are learning to do that!”
When she makes any positive progress it is very important that you cheer like she just d?buted at Carnigie Hall.
When I close my eyes I can smell the sweetness of springtime. I can hear my daugher’s happy laugher. I can see her hair blowing in the wind. And I want to back, but I can’t. She’s asking for the keys to the car so she can go to the mall.
(March 2006) Today was springlike and Hope had me take the training wheel off her bike. Without coaching she just got on and rode away. Lois got a picture of our prodigious little girl.
Riverfront Character Inn
March 1, 2005