Learning to ride a bike is a big event in every child’s life but it’s an even bigger event when you just turned three a few days before and your five-year-old brother just learned to ride without training wheels a couple weeks before that.
For my daughter, our youngest child, her big event happened on a Wednesday. The first day of summer vacation. It was a brutally hot morning and since she had me take her training wheels off when I took her brother’s off, she was ready to rock it. Though, I certainly didn’t expect her to rock it so soon.
I wasn’t the only one who was caught off guard when after I held the back of her seat for a few spins around the cul-de-sac, I let go, and she just kept going.
To say the five-year-old was less than thrilled about the turn of events would be an understatement.
“Olivia is amazing!” my seven-year-old exclaimed.
“She’s not that great,” my five-year-old retorted. “She falls every time she stops.”
He had a point. Her legs weren’t quite long enough to reach the ground comfortably, so her stops were a work in progress.
But the subtext of his gripe was clear. While he had narrowly avoided complete humiliation, the timing of his little sister’s triumph was still less than ideal.
Later that day, after an early spaghetti dinner (we have to carb load because we’re cyclists now), we headed outside for one more biking session.
I got in a nice cardio workout jogging along beside the new biker until I realized there was no way I was going to be able to keep up that pace. Fortunately, she didn’t really need me except to cushion her crash stops so I could mostly hover and sprint in when she randomly decided to slow down after ten or twenty loops around the street.
I’m not sure what the five-year-old was doing exactly during all this but based on his lack of forward motion and the number of times he toppled over onto the asphalt, I assume he was practicing for a slow bicycle race.
Within fifteen minutes or so, the seven-year-old developed a sudden and painful leg ailment and had to tell me a lot about it and then walk his bike back up the driveway to our house.
Meanwhile, the bicycle debutante continued zipping around the cul-de-sac, making neat (if a little wobbly at times) circles. She was like a vulture. Just circling and circling. Relentless. Focused. Adorable.
Impervious to any drama taking place around her. No matter what, she just kept pedaling. Because she is relentless and possibly because, as mentioned above, she doesn’t really know how to stop yet without falling over.
After about thirty minutes, we retired inside our air-conditioned oasis for some relaxed screen time and baths. We deserved it. All of us.
Whether we were flying high on accomplishment, nursing lower extremity injuries, or tending to bruised egos, it had been an exhausting and eventful first day of summer vacation. Only about seventy-five more to go until it’s back to school.
But who’s counting? After all, time is but an insignificant construct. Just ask my five-year-old.