Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

What’s Up Doc #17: Chores and Bikes

IMG_0167 prints footprintsI am still alive despite the cobwebs all up in here!

My husband was out of state for a week, we spent four days painting gazebo fencing by hand, I’ve been too down-in-the-mouth to write anything I feel comfortable putting out there, and the weather has drawn my spawn outside.   You’d think that without children underfoot I could manage to do fun adult things for myself, but you’d be wrong.

This month, I noticed that my six year old still can’t ride her bike properly.   Some might tell me not to sweat it and not to push.  However, my daughter is highly athletic and agile.  I know her and I know her abilities.    She also makes completely different noises if:

  1. She’s genuinely afraid and can’t do it
  2. She’s is genuinely afraid but can
  3. She has built it up in her head and can do it if she just gets out of her own way.

I’m confident that this is a number 3 situation based on pitch and duration of the whine; a strong nudge is in order in this case.

Something is hindering her from mastering bike skills.   I am not an athletically inclined person and it took me much later than my peers to ride my two-wheeler.   Hardly anyone wore helmets in the seventies and early eighties and I might still have a bump on my head to prove it.   Plus, my bikes were always too big for me; I had to sidewalk mount to get started until I grew into them.   I know my kids have the benefit of hindsight and can learn to ride without major injury.

I told my daughter I was taking off the training wheels and she had a mini freak.

This confirmed my observation that the training wheels crutches caused the issue.   I watched her put all her weight on the pedals, lean all the way right or left to drag on the trainers, make hard turns impossible to do on two wheels, and never use her feet to anchor the bike when dismounting.  She had zero confidence and zero knowledge about a bike she’s had since her fourth birthday!

I dropped the ball on this.


Coasting with no pedals and no training wheels.


Day 1:

I removed the training wheels (okay, my husband did and I watched so that I could do it myself later) and lowered the seat all the way to allow her to stand flat-footed.  In my mechanical ignorance, I hadn’t noticed in two years that she couldn’t both sit and have her feet grounded.  My bad.

Next, I firmly insisted she get on the bike in my Mom Voice — it’s the only way to get past a mini-freak out.  She insisted on having on a helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads.  I think she would have chosen a face guard and shoulder pads, too, if we had any.   I showed her that it was impossible to fall with her feet touching the ground.   Her reflexes kicked in automatically.

At first, I left the pedals on, but her attention was split too much.   After I removed them, she spent an hour learning how to waddle-coast — and whine — on the gentle side slope in our driveway.  My four-year-old son was not pleased with the lack of attention on himself.  I took our fifty-year-old little, red two-wheeler out and stripped it of its pedals and training wheels (by myself, even).   He was delighted to race his sister before he even figured out how to sit and coast.

We now have two balance bikes without having to buy one specially made.


Day 2:

My daughter has forgotten all about protective gear; she complains mightily about being saddle sore.   This confirms my suspicion about how wrong she was carrying her weight on training wheels.

“Mooooom.  It’s too haaarrrrd!  Will my butt hurt foreeeeeeever.”

However, she is using her feet to propel forward, has stopped letting the bike go expecting it to stand up, has learned to pick it up properly, and has dared to lift her feet to try and balance.   My son is copying his sister and trying to do it better just because.

Perhaps sibling rivalry will work as an incentive in this scenario…


Day 3:

We took two days off to rest sore bottoms.   My daughter and son no longer need me to reset the bikes at the top of the slope; they walk the bikes or ride them up by foot-pushing.  No whining!

I’ve been reassigned to cheerleader.  They require me to stand there and watch them show off.

My daughter can coast most of the way with her feet up and began to turn left to extend the ride. Miss Adventurous decided to instruct me to be “red light, green light” in order to display her Flintstone braking skills.    My son is quite upset that his bike is slower even though he should be concentrating on balance not speed.    My eager girl wants to move to the next phase which is one pedal on.

She’s almost there.



Day 4:

Another rain break.  This weather has been uncooperative!  We put one pedal on and my daughter took right to it and got bored of that within fifteen minutes and insisted she was ready for two pedals.  I am not surprised, but refrained from pointing out that the first day she was not pleased with me for taking the training wheels away.     I put the other pedal on and she practically shoved me out of the way to get on and took off like a drunken sailor on a spinning log.  She didn’t get a straight line but she rode saying the whole way, “I got it, I got it.”  To be sure that I knew she didn’t need me at all.  She demonstrated her braking abilities and started to aim for speed.    Little Brother was not pleased.   The little old red bike chain is groaning and I think we will scour Craig’s list for a replacement.  He’s got the idea, but the little red needs more repairs than we have money to spend to restore it to its former glory.  Well done daughter!

3 comments on “What’s Up Doc #17: Chores and Bikes

  1. BunKaryudo
    April 25, 2016

    I remember my father helping me to ride a bicycle when I was younger. I don’t think he ever had to pretend to be a traffic signal for me, though! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wheels On The Bus
    April 26, 2016

    I have been cycling for a long time . I think it is quite easy .
    Thank you for your post.


  3. Pingback: Article #14: How To Teach Children To Ride A Bike in Five Steps Without Tears and Concussions | Laissez Faire

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