Sunday, September 12, 2010

On Learning to Ride a Bike

From Dan: I learned something the other day about parenting when our nine year old son Riley finally learned to ride his bike. I say finally because we've been making sporadic attempts at it since he was 6. It was my fault, really, that he didn't learn sooner; for some reason we didn't do it the summer when he was 5, which is probably the best time to learn. And, even though we sell kick bikes in the store, we never got one for him when he was younger, which would have helped a lot. By the time he was 8, it became a source of frustration for him and we were both kind of avoiding it. And I was feeling a little like I had failed him as a father in this important step.

So, last week, we decided to try again. I fixed up his bike and we walked down to Newell Park, where there's a long grassy slope that's perfect for coasting down. I helped him get started at the top of the hill and gave him a gentle push. And there he went. In five seconds, he became a biker. In 15 minutes, he was biking all around the park. Now, we're going on daily bike rides together.

Afterward, I shared with Millie what I thought to be the lesson from this experience: That I should have taught him earlier, that I should have thought to use a hill to help him learn.

But she said we should have just trusted that he would learn when he was ready, just like everything else. With all three of our kids, whether its learning to read, learning to use the bathroom, or learning to ride a bike--they'll figure it out when they're ready.

All true, I said. Although it might have been useful if we'd learned that lesson a little earlier.
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