I'll just come right out and admit that I didn't learn how to ride a bike until I was about seven, so I'm not one to judge here. I was perfectly happy with my Dukes of Hazzard Big Wheel, thankyouverymuch. Jackson made a brief attempt at learning to ride last summer, culminating in him riding a good twenty feet on his own before declaring that he was done, that he would NEVER be able to ride a bike, that it was too hard. I tried using an analogy, that learning to ride a bike is like climbing a mountain, and he was just on the verge of reaching that summit before things got easier on the descent. I gave him the standard parent lecture about how learning new things is not always easy, that everyone goes through this, that once you learn you will never forget how to do it, blah blah don't you want to feel the wind in your hair blah blah. Then winter came and we figured by the time summer 2009 rolled around, he'd be itchin' to get back on the bike and show it who's boss.
Jackson started first grade on Monday, so I guess summer is over, and no progress was made on the bike front. I know Jackson well enough to not push things if he's not interested. So I used Mom Tactic #217 (make an activity seem top-secret, like a spy mission, and they will automatically want to be involved) and casually but conspiratorily mentioned to Jackson this morning that since he only has a half day of school on Fridays, I thought maybe it would be fun to pick him up with his bike in the car and head straight to this great park where there was a hill famous for teaching kids to ride--gentle slope for momentum's sake, wide grassy expanse for knees' and elbows' sake...and that we would just keep this to ourselves and practice until we ready for the big unveiling to Daddy. Did that sound cool?
This afternoon, we headed to Congress Park, I popped a helmet on his head, and off he went.
Run #1: ten feet, and then a mildly painful fall. No big deal...
Run #2: fifteen feet, and then a mildly painful fall. Um, he's starting to look discouraged.
Run #3: fifteen feet, and a hard fall with some bike part leaving a 6" nasty scrape on his inner thigh. He's done, he says...he'll never learn how to ride, it's too hard. I swiftly break out seldom-used Mom Tactic #422. I don't use this one very often because I don't want it expected, but it has its purposes. "Jackson, we've done 3 runs. If you give me 20 runs, we're going out for ice cream." He eyed me warily, squinting. "When?" "Today, before picking up your brothers. Just you and me." Aha...a glimmer in his eye.
Runs 4-5 make progress, and Run 6 is stellar, going down the hill and a good distance into the soccer field. I tell him he has made it to the top of the mountain and is starting to jog down the other side. Runs 7-19 go smoothly, with no major scrapes and some good skill building with steering and braking. I tell him that Run #20 should be on the sidewalk, and he says he's not ready. Run #20 is done and he is telling me that he thinks mint chocolate chip sounds good. I can't resist, and dangle one last carrot--"Hey, if you go on the sidewalk for Bonus Run #21, I'll let you have sprinkles on your ice cream." That was easy, and he did great.
We drove a few short blocks to Lik's, and bubble gum ice cream with chocolate sprinkles was the well-deserved reward.
This evening, Jackson felt confident enough to surprise his dad with his newfound skills.
In light of this and the two top teeth he is currently missing, I am doing my best to sloooowwww down time. Universe, help me out here, because for some reason my kids are growing up way too fast. It would be a great help if I didn't have to do things like work, or stain kitchen door trim. Let me savor this time while my boys are young.