One of the rites of passage as a parent is teaching your child to ride a bike.
For several years, we had been encouraging our oldest daughter, Megan (just turned nine) to take off the training wheels and learn to ride for real. She kept saying she wasn't ready yet.
This summer was different, and over the last couple of weeks, we've taken her to a few different flat, empty parking lots, and she's now riding without a problem.
On day one we were at my wife's work lot on a Sunday afternoon. It's not the flattest of spots, but it was certainly a familiar one, and we knew there wouldn't be a lot of interruption.
As with all kids the first time they try to ride a bike on their own, it wasn't easy. I walked with Megan, one hand on the seat to help guide her along.
After a few times around the lot, I'd start to take the hand off, and let her go by herself for a few seconds at a time. By the end of the day she could get a good 10-15 second run going before she'd lose her balance.
One of the advantages to having waited so long to learn is that the bike she's riding -- similar to the Disney Princess model above, and originally purchased for her several years ago -- was little enough that she's very close to the ground, and any loss of balance is rectified with a simple placement of foot on pavement. Almost like learning to swim in a three-foot deep pool, when you're well over three feet tall.
Day two came on a night last week. We found a school parking lot near our neighborhood that was big, flat, and empty. Megan had a lot more confidence this time, and although I walked with her during her whole time riding, she hardly needed any assistance.
Last night we went for the third time, and I should have brought a lawn chair and a book to read. She's getting pretty good at it now, but certainly not cocky about it. She still is going nice and slow, not trying to do too much.
Nothing beats seeing the smile on her face that shows off the fun she's having, plus the sense of accomplishment at learning something that she had put off for so long.
Guess it's going to be time soon to save up enough for a new bike for Megan.
And, hopefully I remember where I put those training wheels for our other daughter Sarah -- who turns three Saturday. Soon, I'll be teaching her the finer points of cycling as well. I'm sure I'll remember how to do it.
It's just like riding a bike.