Tuesday, 5 June 2007


I remember when Dad first took my training wheels off my bike; I was six.

I remember the anticipation; my self-doubt and concern about riding without my tiny support wheels. I remember Dad's encouragement and promise that he would not let go of my bike until he knew I was ready and able to ride on my own. I remember taking off for the first time, Dad running along side me holding the seat so I would not topple over. He kept telling me to peddle and concentrate on where I was going - "look straight ahead". We did this over and over again, on the circular driveway out the front of the ole homestead, near the garage. Unbeknown to me, Dad, though still running alongside me, was decreasing the amount of support he was applying in order to keep me upright, until his assistance was no longer required. Then eventually, we took off together, Dad stopping part way while I rode on - solo.

I had ridden a few metres before I realised he was no longer there; of course I turned to see where he was, and of course I fell off and scraped my knee, but I was also encouraged to get right back on there and try again, and eventually...at some stage, I must have gathered the experience and confidence to ride steadily.

Mister is an avid bike rider. He loves to tear around the street on his bike, and show off to the neighbour, delighting in her telling him "how fast" he can ride. Now and again we have suggested that perhaps he might like to take his training wheels off, but as is usually the case with him, we were met with much wailing and resistance, but since he is still only four, we didn't push it.

On Thursday afternoon, Mister was watching "Franklin", a cartoon about a turtle and his mates. During the episode, Franklin took the training wheels off his bike, and for whatever reason, Mister suddenly declared that he would also like to take his off. We were delighted to hear this, and bargained with him that we would do the deed on Saturday and spend all afternoon nurturing his confidence and guiding him in the art of bike riding sans trainer wheels.

On Saturday, Mister was champing at the bit, waiting impatiently as Ashely removed the wheels. We encouraged him to ride on the lawn at first, but the ground was too moist and spongy and he was having a hard time getting started, so we took him out the front, where there is a pavement and lawn for him to fall onto. So we took him out there, nervous about how this experience might turn out; how much wailing and disenchantment there would be as he struggled to control and balance the bike, without the customary support. We were bracing ourselves for a very long day; some skinned knees and howling; the beloved bike very likely being tossed aside to pouting promises of "never riding it again UNLESS those trainer wheels are replaced"...but we were wrong.

I kid you not, we had scarcely gotten into the front yard before Mister, without ANY assistance whatsoever, jumped on his bike and rode off BY HIMSELF! Ashley and I were both stunned, looked at each other, and then threw our heads back and laughed out loud. Mister couldn't understand what we were laughing at, and since we didn't want to make him paranoid, we explained that he was doing a fantastic job, and "could not believe" that he was riding so well so soon after removing the trainers. We told him "we could have removed them weeks ago if we had known he was that good". Basically we praised him up, and he was very proud of himself. He even went for a ride around the block. He did very well, but got a bit wobbly when the path appeared to narrow, but overall he rode exceptionally well for a first go.

Yesterday morning he showed a friend his new biking skills, and then he declared that he was going to teach another friend how to ride without trainer wheels - I am sure the other friend would be wrapped!

Mister, who has been known to be an overly resistant nervous nelly about practically EVERYTHING, has really gained a lot of self-confidence in recent weeks. He is really enjoying being a "big boy" and we are also, very happy to see him bloom.


monkeyinabox said...

I have a feeling I will have a similar story to tell about a certain Dingo.

strauss said...

HA HA Ha! I thought of her when I wrote this.

Elizabeth said...

The looking back on the stepping stones of progress is somthing you have to look forward too.

You marvel at the changes, you marvel at how you felt about the slow or fast pace of their development and you marvel that they still continue to be a joy and a challange.

Tracey said...

How wonderful!! Now can he come over and teach our Zoe (aged 8 and a half) how to be confident on her bike?! You've no idea the dramas we've had with her bike riding progressions. (She was never actually very confident with the trainer wheels!!)

shishyboo said...

still can't ride a bike, no desire to start now

Muse said...

I would not be caught dead with training wheels. I want to learn so bad. My kids can ride so well, its like I'm the kid. heh heh.

Good on little Mister. The great thing is that you can go much faster without training wheels too. Tell him I said so.

Monkey... you are on!

jeanie said...

Congratulations to your 4 year old! I know that Franklin episode - we watched it about 50 times and 'Salina only took on the part about wanting extra padding!