We experienced a revelation on Labor Day weekend. One that only another experienced parent could have shown us. We were relating our woes in teaching our girls to ride a bike without training wheels. Frustration was building with each lesson. An added complication was that we had a double-tagalong to hook up to my husband’s mountain bike allowing him to do all the work while our girls enjoyed the ride. So really, what was the point in learning to ride your own bike? And then we started hearing stories of how other kids their age (or slightly younger) had taken off their training wheels and were now reaping the benefits of their respective freedom. We didn’t want our girls to feel like they were being left behind.
So, we (well really, my husband) began the arduous task of teaching them balance on two wheels. He took the training wheels off one bike and held our daughter steady (her twin wasn’t so keen on losing her training wheels, so we left hers on). All the while, I could hear him giving instructions, encouraging her to take off and letting go. Only to see her fall into a heap…a loud, angry, crying one. And over several sessions, the frustration built. Theory and execution do not easily go hand-in-hand when learning to ride a bike.
As we lamented our stories that weekend, one of our friends told us to take off the pedals. Huh? And then he talked about how he took the pedals off his daughter’s bike and had her glide around the street for a day, using only her feet to propel her forward. As he had tired his own back from holding her, pushing her and letting go, he realized that she was so focused on pedaling to keep up and going that she wasn’t taking the time to just stay up. The next day, after she became a pro at gliding as she sat on her bike, he put the pedals back on. She took off. Wow. What a concept. I could already see how this made sense. Teaching your child to balance on two wheels had nothing to do with pedals. Pedals only got in the way *and* took the child’s attention away from focusing on balance. It seemed so obvious…but one we never thought of. We couldn’t wait to test this new technique on Songwriter.
Songwriter didn’t like the idea. She wanted her bike in one piece. We did it anyway. She was mad but she followed our directions. With practice and a little instruction, she was gliding like a champ, going longer and longer along the straightaway. The next day, she demanded her pedals back. After a while, we gave in. She took off. Wow. What a concept. It worked. The little speed demon is going to make what’s left of my black hair completely gray. But oh well. The gratification of seeing her smile in triumph was priceless. She is more mobile now than she ever was. Another major milestone achieved. God help us.
An original It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog post.
You may also find MommyTwinGirls at Silicon Valley Moms Blog telling tales of parenting in Silicon Valley, at Mad About Multiples recounting the ups and downs of raising twins and at Solheim Photography posting favorites from her latest photo shoots.