Just in case you missed it when I shouted from the rooftops and it happened to sneak past you in the Instagram and Facebook (and, gosh, maybe even Twitter) feeds, here it is - Lucy riding a bike WITHOUT training wheels:
If you want more advice about how to get your kid to ride happily on two wheels, I cannot help much. I can only share my experience and maybe from that you can, at least, extrapolate what not to do. It took 3 years, two bikes, one helmet, more bribes than I can count and one patient uncle. And what Christian and I were not able to accomplish in 3 years of trying, Uncle Richmond accomplished in about 30 minutes on a quiet street.
Lucy's first bike was a really cute, multi-colored trike. Although she was never too enthusiastic about riding it, she did, occasionally with much prodding. Christian campaigned for one of those itty bitty two-wheelers with training wheels for Lucy when she turned 3. I put my foot down thinking it was just one more unnecessary toy. When Lu turned 5 we got her a Schwinn with training wheels. We got her a new helmet. She loved them both. That is, she loved the way they both looked. She did ok on the bike the wobbling made her nervous and the cracks on the sidewalk made it tough for her to every get up much speed or confidence. We took her to Audubon Park now and then and sometimes she looked comfortable on the bike but she never really asked to ride. When she was 5.5 we started experimenting with two-wheeling without the training wheels. The practices usually occurred at the park near our house where the sidewalk is (relatively) even and there is a large grassy area. The first attempt was lousy and she shrieked the entire time and let go of the bike and grabbed whoever was holding it and running alongside her. She stopped pedaling, she insisted she would fall and never once, not a single time in about 20 different attempts over the course of the next 3 years did she ever pedal more than about 3 rotations without someone holding the back of the bike.
Let me also add that this was not for a lack of kindness and encouragement. Christian and I were both incredibly patient and sweet (at least in front of Lucy). We took breaks. We didn't push it. We only took the wheels off when Lu said she was ready. None of it worked.
One of my 2014 goals was getting her on two wheels. I knew she would love it. I just couldn't figure out a way to convince her. My mom recently rehabbed a 30 something year old navy blue Schwinn that is a little lower and a lot heavier/sturdier than the one we bought Lu. I think my sister and little brother both learned how to ride on this bike and so maybe mom was right to bust out the old clunker and bank on some good two wheelin juju.
After wasting most of the day on my MLK, Jr. holiday I decided I needed to accomplish something and I couldn't run (due to the IT band injury I mentioned in my last post) and didn't feel like working or going to the grocery or cleaning the house. So, at that point it made sense to get Lu back on two wheels and make it happen. It was not a total coincidence that I planned it when Richmond was in NOLA.
There's no question that things felt different when I got Lu out there on the blue Schwinn. Was it as simple as just a different bike? Was it the passage of time? Who knows...but I did get her to pedal about 20 feet without anyone holding her bike. And then she started to get nervous and I ultimately had to throw in the towel. At that point Richmond stepped in, I forced myself to keep my mouth shut and about 30 minutes later I walked out on the front porch and took the video I included above.
I remember pushing Lucy in the BOB when she was a baby. I would circle Audubon Park and point out birds and trees and dogs and bikes. I remember seeing moms running along side older kids on two wheelers and thinking, "boy, I am going to love it when Lu is riding her bike and I am running right next to her". Last Saturday we did just that (my IT band injury is improving, slowly, and with the help of acupuncture - more on that journey later)...I ran, she rode and we passed a young mama pushing her baby in their BOB and my eyes welled up with tears.