Start ‘Em Young

“I wanna ride my bike ALLLLL day,” says my 2-year-old boy.

I can’t help but feel that the brainwashing has been a success. He’s been two for about three weeks now.

“Me TOO!” I tell him, as he heads outside, still in his striped jammies and before breakfast.

“At least put on your shoes!” I holler.

“OK, mama,” he says happily.

Not even a 12” bike is small enough for his tiny body, and he doesn’t quite get the pedaling thing. I was so tired of pushing him around the pump track while he pressed his foot steadily on the coaster brake and then screamed when mommy was too tired to do more than 10 hunched laps. I found him a bike without pedals. It’s also low enough to the ground for him to scoot around on, helping him learn to steer and balance.

It was 5pm on a Saturday when he first got on his new bike. At 8pm, well beyond his bedtime, I had to drag him from his bike, kicking and screaming, to bed. The next day it rained. The bike had to come inside. There was no way I was denying the child his bike on the first real day he owned it. He looped the circuit through the kitchen and living room for quite some time before settling down in the corner with both “Bankie” and his bike draped across his lap. At night, snuggled into my shoulder after our second song, he murmured, “Biiiiiiike…”

He has ridden that bike every single day for three weeks. It goes everywhere with him. He made grandma come back to get it on their day together. They made it halfway down the road before she had to pull over and remove him from the car seat so that he could see that the bike was actually in the car behind him.

In one week he was coasting down a steep driveway, chasing his brother, when he had his first endo. It began with a high-speed wobble when the wheel finally tucked under and flung him over the bars and into a pile of leaves. He laughed. Maybe it’s because I had him scooped up before he ever had the chance to realize what had happened, nonetheless, it was a good lesson. An even better lesson was an hour later when practically the same wreck resulted in him knocking the wind out of himself. He was tired and sloppy. Mom had to tell him what was best, taking the distraught child inside for lemonade.

Thankfully he got right back on the next day. We went to the woods this time. It’s hard to get him to walk a trail, and he won’t allow himself to be trapped for too long in the backpack, but on the bike, he goes forever. He’s learning to pull the handlebars up over roots and navigate a decent line through rocks. When he wipes out, he simply gets up again, saying, “I crashed, mommy.” He doesn’t even really need me to set him back up anymore.

Today he rode his bike from 3pm until 8pm, stopping only long enough for me to shovel half of his dinner into his mouth.

I do this all for myself, so that in 10 years from now he will be kicking my ass.

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