By Trina Haynes
Some kids pick up a bike at a young age and it’s instant kismet, and others… well… not so much.
My 11-year-old daughter has shown minimal interest in bicycles since her first introduction at age three. As soon as we sat her on her little plastic scoot-style bike, with joyous faces “she’s going to be a little ripper!”… Nope. Screaming and clamoring to get off this evil, vampiric contraption followed suit.
We tried just letting the toddler bike sit there and maybe she would become interested. Nope.
We tried “Look, Mommy and Daddy ride bikes. Wheeee!”. Nope.
This went on for years. She eventually gave into some enjoyment in her bike trailer. Then she graduated to a tag-along, but would never sit on her own training-wheeled bike. Finally, I think at age eight, she started to cruise around on a 10-inch with training wheels, but only in the house and of course it was way to small for her.
By age nine she loved going on rides, as long as it was she was attached to someone else, trail-a-bike style.
At that point we bought her a fancy new bike, which she picked out. She loved it and agreed to practice gliding on it. We dropped the seat, took the pedals off and she was off. Once she understood the concept of balance and gliding on a bike, with a few glide crashes under her belt, we made the decision that the pedals must go on regardless of her refusal.
If you’re a parent, you probably have a good idea of the repercussions. Boycott the bike! Sigh… Eventually (talking at least a month or two) she gave in to just gliding with the pedals on. Her little brother, gliding around, happy as can be, definitely helped.
This went on for months, refusing to touch or put her feet on or near the pedals while gliding. I take full blame for the stubborn gene she has. Then, last weekend, the hubby and I couldn’t take it anymore. The parental foot went down! “We are going to learn to pedal today! And it’s going to be amazing! (Dammit!)”
A few hours of crying, attitude and excuses occured…. Then, tears running down her cheeks and puffy-eyed, she got on her bike.
First we practiced getting the feet up on the pedals while gliding, not even pedaling just sitting them there. Then brakes and feet down, means you stop. Continuing to remind her, “you control the bike, it’s not going to do a back-flip on you, or bust out some kung-fu action to knock you off.” That little step was mastered quickly. Phew, step 1 done!
Then, running along side her, encouraging her to do a pedal stroke. This took hours, one pedal stroke (yeah!), then three (heck yeah!). We continued with this for two days, a good majority of the day, taking breaks, drinking, eating, and trying again and again. Until this…
Of course, I was wiping away motherly proud tears and doing the happy dance in my head. My point is every kid will enjoy riding a bike, no matter how intimidated and afraid they might be and sometimes it is good to let kids take riding a bike at their own pace. And sometimes they need a big push.
It makes me very sad to see reports that children riding bikes in the United States is dropping substantially every year. School districts are not allowing kids to ride bikes to and from school anymore. It infuriates me that adults who as children rode and played in the streets now yell at kids from cars for doing it. Why?!
People tell me, “Times have changed, Trina.” Yes, we changed the times. Let’s change them back! I want my kids to be able to ride up and down the sidewalk and not be panicked about the cars doing 40mph in a 25mph zone, or be able to send them to an empty parking lot and not be worried a car is going to come flying through there to take a shortcut. It wouldn’t just be terrible if we all slowed down, just a little, would it?
Get out there and get your son or daughter, niece or nephew, a grandchild, your godchild or some young human being, and get them to ride at least twice a week. This is your mission for a better bike tomorrow.