Learning to ride a bike is a milestone that each person comes across in their own time. It's not a measurable metric, like first steps, or even being able to print you own name.
Last summer, Nate took off the training wheels on Liv's bike and we had little success. Actually, to say little is to say we had some. The fact was we had none. For whatever reason, she had this fear of falling. There'd been no giant fall or big wipeout that left her bloody and scabbed all season. She just didn't want to.
This spring, the training wheels stayed off. Mostly because we couldn't find them again, but that's besides the point. Liv wanted to give it a try. Kids in her class were riding without them. Her best friend down the street could, so why not her?
Nate and I took turns running up and down the street trying to hold her bike and not tip over (her or ourselves! It's quite awkward to run behind a kid's bike and hold it steady!)
She wanted to quit. Repeatedly. I will be honest, it was very frustrating. I didn't want my child to quit just because it was hard. I have my adult sensibilities and I know that things are supposed to be hard. Who said life was easy? Of course, this is a ridiculous concept to expect your six-year old to grasp. My reasonable self knows this. My crazy-want-my-kid-to-succeed-and-not-quit self had a harder time with it.
I even "Googled" How To Teach Your Kid to Ride a Bike.
How dumb, like Google is going to have the answer. It's like trying to look up "how to teach your kid to suck through a straw" or "how to whistle." And in saying that, I realize the irony, but I'm not trying to teach you how to teach your kid. I'm trying to teach you how to react.
I yelled. Or I scolded. I got frustrated when she got frustrated. None of these were the right reactions, of course, but they just bubbled up and I couldn't stop them. I tried bribing her. I tried reverse psychology. None of it worked. It reminded me of Avery's battle with the poo (another story for another day.) I couldn't do it for her - Liv had to figure it out on her own.
Thankfully I have a calmer husband. I'm sure Liv is even more grateful for a calm father.
I went and got a pedicure and came home to this.
She got there. Olivia can ride a bike, without training wheels. Even after this day, the next time she tried, she still needed to talk herself into it, but she always did it. The push-off, to take off on two wheels and trust that her body could keep her safe.
It was a huge lightning bolt for me. I couldn't do this for her. Add this to the list of a million and seven things I won't be able to do for her. I will want to - I'm her mom. That's part of the gig. Baby comes out, DNA says "You take care of this little being, even if they're not so little anymore." But even if I wanted to make it easy for her, this wasn't something I could help her cheat her way through. She did it all on her own. And I was so proud and excited for her.
Oh, I do have one tiny bit of advice, that was actually given to us from a neighbor kid. Once you let go for the first time, don't tell the kid you've done that. They'll panic and fall. Turns out she was right - or at least seemed to be because the first time I let go and Liv rode on, I ran half a block cheer and shouting without any noise. It's actually more exciting that screaming for real.