Humans are so weird. We pop out all clean and looking like fresh, blank slates, but really, there’s a lot already going on in there. I love when humans are surprising, and that’s probably the best thing about being a parent. Just watching them become whatever seed was already planted inside.
Let’s take the youngest here. She’s that kid that while you teach her things, you might think, “This isn’t ever going to take.” Then one day she decides that she’s got it completely down. One day she decided she was potty trained, and she was. That was that. Same with swimming, reading, and now biking. It took me four years and one day to teach her to ride a bike. Alternatively, it was four years of me confused and trying to re-word and explain the same concepts over and over — then a single day of her deciding she was a bike rider.
When “The Incident” happened, she was riding, but not quite ready to ride to school on her own bike, and she could only ride a few meters at a time. We are over a mile from our “walking school” and must cross two busy streets, one being Lombard/Hwy 30. So I called around to local bike shops looking for one of those tag-a-long tandem hitch bikes, hoping for a used one to try out, but no one had one in stock at the time. I checked Craigslist, and no luck there either unless I wanted to go to the coast (which is tough without a car). So, I relented and ordered from Amazon, thinking for sure this was going to be a total waste of money.
If there’s such a thing as pre-emptive buyer’s remorse, I had it. I really thought it was a load of crap that the tag-a-long is also labeled a “bike trainer” but wow, was I wrong. After a few weeks of teetering to and from school together, her balance behind me got better, and it directly translated to her balance being better on her own bike and riding on her own.
After just a week on the tag-a-long we went back over to Kenton Cycle, got her a better fitting bike, and, at her request, practiced daily at the park. Christmas break came, and she asked to start riding her own bike to school after break. We haven’t used the tag-a-long since.
We have also reached the limit of my ability to teach her much more. For example, I was curious about proper traffic signaling methods. I’m old school and still use the left-arm, 90 degree signal for a right turn, but I see now right arm is acceptable? I’m also finally getting used to the sound of bells as passing signals; but I still taught her the old, “on your left” call out. I can admit when I’m outmoded, and she could benefit from a different teacher.
With spring and summer camps on my mind, are you aware of any that teach bike riding and safety? What should I be looking for in a comprehensive kids biking camp?
As always, you’re the best! I’m so glad I can come to you with these puzzles.
— Becky Jo, @BeckyJoPDX
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Becky Jo lives in North Portland with her husbeast, four children, two cats, and has packed more fabric into their modest house than anyone will ever know. While she knows her way around a sewing machine, cycling is new, filling her with great wonder, confusion, and occasionally panic.