When we parents think of the biggest moments in our kids’ lives, many things come to mind. We think of winning a championship or getting the lead in the play. We may think of graduating high school or getting a driver’s license. When they become adults, the biggest moments involve getting married, buying a home, and having children. We can sometimes forget the biggest moments of a little one’s life. Learning to ride a bike may seem small in the grand scheme of things, but for the child that can become a very big moment that parents can encourage and applaud.
We began teaching our son to ride with training wheels when he was four — while was in the “I’m a big boy” stage. He was very happy to see a brand new bike for his birthday, and we were just as happy to give it to him. He had trouble learning to control the steering at first, but with the training wheels on, at least he did not tip over. He soon learned how to steer, and then he had loads of fun. He could now ride bikes up and down our road and cul-de-sac with the other “big boys.”
Taking off the training wheels
Two years of fun started to fade. When our son turned six, he began to notice the other kids (a little older) no longer using training wheels. They understood his slightly younger age and did not tease him, but our son began to feel like a “baby” once again. The time had come for me to remove the training wheels so he could ride like a big kid. He fell down repeatedly until he finally asked me to put the training wheels back on. I refused because I did not want him to give up.
Hard concrete cul-de-sac
Although I wanted our son to keep trying, I did not enjoy seeing the cuts and scrapes on his arms, legs, and knees that the hard concrete cul-de-sac kept giving him — neither did his mother. He actually gave up riding for a few weeks until he discovered the older kids riding faster and having a whole lot more fun with their bikes. The world had gone on without him, and he was missing out. Then, the clincher happened; our six-year-old boy saw one neighbor’s five-year-old boy riding without training wheels. That did it! In no way would he let a younger kid show him up!
Grass soccer field
At that point, I had another one of my brilliant “Dad is so smart!” moments. I put my wife, my son, and the bike in the car and drove to the local park. This park has two large grass soccer fields not in use at the time. He was very dedicated to learning to ride that bike and show the big kids that he could keep up with them. He brought the bike onto the soccer field determined not to come off until he could ride off – on his own! It worked. Within half an hour, he no longer needed my help. I can still remember his smile as he climbed off that bike and strutted back to the car. Naturally, he bragged all the way home.
Next comes the car
For our six-year-old, learning to ride a bike was a huge accomplishment especially when he learned that he did it two years younger than his father did. Now, at age 12, he still likes to ride a bike, but he has gotten more into motor scooters, and in just a few more years, cars. We have already begun planning for his first car. He will have to earn it. We can delay it but really not stop it. Again, he will need Dad’s help learning to drive. That will take far more effort, concentration, practice, and responsibility. However, just as riding a bike at six was a major accomplishment, driving a car at sixteen is even more of one. Then, he really will be a big boy!
More from this contributor:
Giving Our Son Proper Rewards: A Dad’s Perspective
Winning the Battle with a Picky Eater
Preparing Our Son for Junior High School