I am so proud of my firstborn. He got a new bike from his grandpa a few months ago, one that actually fits him well enough for him to pedal comfortably, and he has worked really hard to ride it.
He started off on a Strider, and we probably didn’t take him out on it as much as we should have. We were living in our condo at the time, and he often wasn’t interested in riding, or when he was, there was often a reason we couldn’t take the bike out. We got out occasionally, though, and since his second birthday, he practiced. He got faster. He got better at picking up his feet and balancing. And balancing and going faster.
It was at a fourth-of-July get together when he was almost four that he got handed down a pedal bike from a friend. He rode it down the hill and started to try to figure out the pedaling. Because his older friend was riding around on his newer, bigger bike, M wanted to participate, too. And he did well that first time. I was really impressed. And very grateful that they let us take the little old bike home to practice some more.
The pedal bike sat around more than the Strider. Probably because I got pregnant and didn’t feel like doing much running after the speedy biker he was becoming. Again, he got out on the bike occasionally, but often preferred the Strider when the pedals confounded or frustrated him.
When we moved, his grandpa bought him a refurbished little Schwinn. It’s not so little to him, though, and the deal was that he’d get the bigger bike when he could finally master the pedaling on the little one. So for a few months, he’s been working really hard. And he has mastered the little bike, though now it is so small for him that he looks almost as silly on that one as I look on his “big” bike.
Last week, I finally got him a new helmet that actually fits his big-boy head, and we made an agreement that any time he wanted to go out and ride his little bike, he would at least sit on the big one and ride it if he wanted to try it. This became a compromise after he fell off the big one during one of his early attempts.
This week, he rides up and down the alley, gets going by himself and can turn the corner and go around the front of the house on the sidewalk. He sometimes stumbles a little bit pushing off to get started and after skidding to a stop, but he’s really getting the hang of it and I’m so thrilled for him.
I remember the exhilaration of riding my bike around the neighborhood. There’s that measure of freedom that comes with your first set of wheels. I’m not ready to let him cross the streets just yet, but our block has some space to pick up speed, a slight incline that’s great for getting your muscles warm pedaling up and the wind in your face barreling down. It makes me want to get a bike of my own again. To enjoy that with my boy. With my boys.
Because we lowered the seat and handlebars on the Strider again. And the little one’s head almost fits in the old small helmet. And he hopped right on, and he tries to push it with his feet. I bend down hold onto the handle bars with him, help him balance there. And he smiles really big and you can tell he’s just waiting to take off after his big brother. To fly away, too.