Teaching your kid to ride a bike is more than just a rite of passage – it’s what every parent associates with being a parent.
Ask a mom- or dad-to-be what they are most looking forward to, and they WILL say, among other things, “Teaching them stuff, like how to ride a bike.”
It’s on every TV show with a child under 5. It’s on commercials. It has been burned into our brains: You must teach your child to ride a bike or you have failed to help our species progress.
And, because the activity has such wide exposure, everyone knows the formula, complete with two tantrums and broken bones:
Kid gets bike. Kid is overjoyed, jumps up and down and pees their pants a little. Parents throw tantrum assembling/checking/child-proofing bike. Parents take anxious child to practice. Child sits on bike, immediately falls over, throws tantrum, hates bike, swears will never ride again. Parents give “Full-House”-esque pep talk. Child returns to bike, learns to ride. Years later, child crashes bike and breaks arm for first time, which leads to another significant milestone: child’s first cast.
So, I pretty much knew how this was going to go when Monster received one of those tricycle/stroller hybrids for his birthday. I was ready for some tears, and I figured he would shed a few as well.
However, nothing could have prepared me for how God-awful, tedious and annoying it is to teach a toddler how to pedal and steer.
Maybe it’s that I’ve hit the third trimester and my threshold for unnecessary work is at an all-time low. Or maybe it’s because I had irrational expectations that a 2-year-old would immediately grasp “left foot push, right foot push.”
Whatever the case, one sunny afternoon last week, all visions I had of the two of us laughing as we tore through the greenway were immediately tainted with the horror of tiny feet getting caught between pedal and wheel for the EIGHTY-MILLIONTH TIME.
“Buddy, keep your feet on the pedal. Right there. On the yellow – no, no, no no, friend, not on the wheel. Put your feet flat. FLAT. Monster, flatten your feet. Just put them on – why are you taking off your jacket? It’s 40 degrees!”
I thought it would be a lifesaver that the tricycle is equipped with a handle so parents can lock the pedals and simply push the child along.
Yes … and no. The child can still steer the bike.
We veered into bushes more times than a drunk squirrel.
I’m sure all of this would have been fine were I not carrying an extra 30 pounds around my waist (yes, I have already gained 30 pounds, and I’m not ashamed).
Constantly bending to correct feet placement or straighten the wheel was not what I had in mind when I said, “Hey, want to take your bike outside?”
The little doll that he is, Monster had no sense that he was driving his mother crazy. Onward he went, crookedly steering 40 feet to go 10, smile plastered on his face.
As I pushed him back home, he cheered “GOOOOO! Go, Momma, GOOOO!” with one little fist proudly thrust into the blue sky.
Back aching and patience obliterated, I still couldn’t help but smile. After all, no one broke a bone, only one of us peed our pants (him) and only one of us threw a tantrum (me). In my book, that spells success.