Monday, April 02, 2007

The Big Boy Bike

The Boy has finally conquered the mystery of balancing on a bike without training wheels.

At the conclusion of his first really successful ride, he was so excited that he pumped the air with his fists.

It's easy to forget what a big deal a bike is when you're five.

The Big Boy Bike represents mobility, and a kind of coolness, and actual achievement. It took TB a while to get the hang of it. Last Fall our efforts were simply fruitless, as he wouldn't go more than a couple of feet without falling. The first couple of outings this spring didn't work, either. At one memorable moment, he actually went careening into the side of a building, doing quite a number on one finger. (This is the hazard of learning on a hill. But we found that when he started on a flat spot, he couldn't get enough power to get moving before losing his balance. Starting by going downhill took power out of the equation long enough to let him get the hang of the balance. Now he can start just fine on a flat part.)

Then, mysteriously, he got it. It clicked.

Now he rides circles and figure 8's in the school parking lot, and wants to go biking every night after dinner.

The world has changed since I was his age. We didn't know from helmets or knee pads. Bike accessories back then were basically two things: really high orange flags off the back wheel, and baseball cards for the spokes. I haven't seen one of those flags in decades, and now we have laws about helmets. And baseball cards are far too expensive and valuable to put in bicycle wheels.

(This was also around the time of Evel Knievel's heyday. Evel Knievel plus unhelmeted five-year-old boys with bikes equals big fun! Also, severe bodily harm.)

TB's favorite place to ride is next to a playground, so we can take The Girl with us. One of us watches TB, and the other watches The Girl. On a good night, we coordinate with the family of one of TB's friends, so TB has a kid to ride with and TG has one of her little friends to climb the jungle gym with. Good stuff.

TB is still small enough that the mobility only happens under our supervision, so I'm not conflicted about it yet. He's not biking across town, or asking for the car keys. (Even typing that sentence, I could feel my blood pressure rise.) At this point, he's just having a great time going faster than he could on foot. For a little while, we have the glorious luxury of vicariously enjoying his newfound abilities without worrying about their implications for his safety. I know the moment will pass. I just want to enjoy it for a little while first.