Thursday, March 10, 2005


Several years ago my eight-year-old daughter received her first bicycle from Santa Claus. For several weeks after Christmas, she loved riding it around the block. After that, it mostly just sat in the garage. Occasionally, I would try to get her to ride without training wheels. The episodes always ended up with her mad at me.

Last Christmas my five-year-old daughter received her first bicycle from Santa Claus. She pretty much duplicated the behavior of her older sister. It was great for a few weeks, and then it sat in the garage.

Sunday, my wife suggested that we walk over to the girl’s elementary school and ride bikes. My oldest daughter resisted at first, but she eventually agreed to go. When we got there, I took her training wheels off her bike, held her up by the seat, gave her a gentle push, and off she went; it was like she had been riding her whole life.

My five-year-old then demanded that I take the training wheels off of her bike and let her ride without them. I didn’t think she was ready to ride without them, but I agreed to let her try. For the next thirty minutes, I ran around the playground holding on to the seat of her bike and occasionally letting go. Just as soon as I let go, she would quit peddling and crash, then she would cry, then she would yell at me that I wasn’t doing it right. We finally decided that enough was enough and we went home.

On the way home, she complained to us that her ears were really hurting. She had been fighting a cold all week, so my wife took her to the urgent care center at our doctor. The doctor confirmed that both ears were infected and she needed to start taking antibiotics.

After getting back home she begged me to take her back to the school and try again. I was sure I was wasting my time, but how could I say no to my little girl right after she got back from the doctor.

The first several tries ended up like all of the ones earlier in the day. Time after time, I told her to keep pedaling and time after time she panicked and fell down. Just when I was ready to give up again, she finally kept pedaling, and off she went, head first into a water fountain. With her face covered with tears, snot flowing out of her nose, she got back on the bike and demanded to do it again. For most of the rest of the afternoon, she seemed to have an unnatural ability to hit the most unlikely obstacle. Once, she ran into the basketball goal pole so hard it sounded like a huge bell. Each time she would cry, wipe the snot from her nose, and get back on the bike to do it again. By the end of the day, she could stop and start by herself.

I think I need to make sure I keep her pointed in the right direction for the next few years. However, this week at least, I am one proud marine.


Buz said...

While it probably seems like a hundred years away, it won't be long until that bike turns into a car. I'd be especially careful of the younger one (;

Hammertime said...

That is, indeed, Rudy-esque. My personal experience was somewhat mother kept shoving me down a hill on the bike till I quit all bloody and bruised. I figured it out later with a gentler approach.
Buz is right about the 'watch out', especially with that kind of tenacity. The future will be exciting, that's for sure!

Derek Simmons said...


Thanks for telling a great story, and for reminding this old (Navy) guy that both he and his girls remembered the thrill of ultimate "two-wheeler" victory long after the agony--with bruises-of defeat was forgotten.