...my child sold your honor student the answers to the test...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Goodbye Training Wheels

Xavier has finally learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. I thought this day would never come. No seriously I really didnt think it would. Is that bad of me?

You see, Xavier has had some form of bike since he was 2. We started with the traditional tricycle and then moved onto a bike with training wheels when his knees kept hitting the trykes handle bars. Despite me constantly dragging him outside to practice he has been reluctant. Zavi is a perfectionist at heart, but lacks the confidence and patience to perfect new skills. If it doesnt come to him easily he wants nothing to do with it. This was extremely evident on learning how to ride a bike.

He would always come up with these grand ideas of what he would be able to accomplish when he could ride without training wheels. He would do wheelies. He would do jumps. He would ride his bike handles and wow everyone around him. I never dashed these dreams of his. But I would insist before he started planning on jumping the Grand Canyon with his bike he better feel comfortable enough on it to try getting rid of his training wheels.

When we moved here 2 years ago I was excited because we had a green way right behind our house and I thought it would be a perfect place for Zavi to finally practice and gain the confidence he needed. We'd go out a few times and he would pedal his bike at Mach -3 (that roughly translates to slower than a snail on Valium) constantly stopping when he felt like he was going to fall. He never did, but he feared falling. Despite my repeated comforting assertions that yes, he will fall eventually, but that its ok and he wont get hurt (Much, I would mutter very quietly). And that EVERYBODY falls off their bike when learning so it will be ok and no one will laugh at him.Of course the one time we did go out and he started showing confidence he turned a corner on the pathway and got barreled over by 3 10 yr olds whizzing by on their bikes. After which he put his bike away for 6 months.

I bought him a new bike for his birthday in March. It was a Star Wars bike, with Yoda and Jedis on it. He loved it! He tried it out once. Then he forgot about it. J kept commenting on how it was wasted money. But I refused to give up. I knew one day he would achieve confidence in himself and practice enough to finally take off the training wheels and join the rest of the boys in this country biking all over the neighborhoods.

It took seeing his friend, a year younger than he, biking like a maniac on our street a few weeks ago. I was outside with our neighbor and her kids, pushing Ashe around on his little bike and Xavier was wobbling all over and getting frustrated. His friend whizzed by, stopped to chat for a bit then offered to race Xavier. I should also mention that Xavier is also competitive. I saw a gleam in his eye as a smile lit up his face. Gone was the nervous boy on a bike and replacing him was a boy who wanted to race. And win. I should thank Zavis friend for that. The two boys raced each other for awhile and when we were packing it in for the day Zavi asked if we could bike again tomorrow. Sure, I said. And so every day after that as long as the weather was good, we were out for an hour to bike. And he practiced. And practiced. And after a week I made his training wheels higher so he wobbled more. And he practiced some more. And started bringing up taking the wheels off again.

On Sunday, when he felt better from the flu, J and I decided to take the boys to a park for a picnic. On a whim I threw in the bikes with training wheels off them, and picked a park with unused basketball courts for him to practice on. We ate our lunch and then Xavier hopped on his bike and listened while I explained how to do a kick start. I also explained to him if he felt like he was going to fall to head for the grass all around.

He got the kick start figured out after about 15 minutes of growling and muttering. Instead of braking he'd just head to the grass and topple off grinning. I figured if he wanted to bike on our road he damn well better know how to stop if a car comes by. So I played a game with him. He would bike around in circles and I'd call out things that were crossing the road. If he didnt break, he was "dead" and had to start over. So our game went like this:

"Zavi BEAR!"...brake "Good job!!!"......"Zavi MOOSE... MOOSE.. XAVIER MOOOOOOSE!!! Ok dude you just hit a gigantic moose."
"Mom, there are no Moose in NC."
"Not anymore. You just hit the last one. Ok lets try again........ ZAVI SHARK!"
"What kind of shark???"
"What? I dont know... ummm, TIGER SHARK!"
"Mom..."
"Yeah?"
"Sharks don't live on land."
"Would you stop being so realistic and work with me here?"
"Fine. I'll try again."
"Good.......ZAVI TIGER!!! TIGER!!!! WOULD YOU JUST BRAKE?!?!?!?!"

until finally he got his braking confidence. I laughed and cheered and jumped up and down as much as I could with Soren in his Moby wrap passed out on me. Xavier was thrilled and was disappointed that yesterday it rained and he couldn't bike after school. But today is sunny, so we'll be waiting for him to get home from school, outside, with his bike waiting for him, now without training wheels.

Fly, young bird, fly. You've got your wings.

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