Yeah, baby. I'm just a genie in a bottle. Yeah, that's right.
As I said, I had a few wishes I wanted to set out and take care of while I was on vacation, and the biggest one involved Tiger. The fact that he didn't know how to ride a bike yet had been really bothering me, and I'd be damned if I was going to let it continue any longer.
So, Josie's boyfriend Andrew fixed up his bike for me and removed the training wheels, and I picked up a decent bike rack for my RAV-4. After packing and food shopping, bike riding 101 was the first order of business at the beach house in Yarmouth.
One of my LJ friends commented on this, but it's completely true: what freedom learning to ride a bike represents! I still remember tooling around with my little Schwinn, with a playing card inserted into the bike spokes with a clothespin, pumping up and down the mean streets of our little cul de sac in North Eldredge as fast as my skinny legs would take me. One time, I was whizzing down a particularly steep hill, and the front tire gave out on my bike. I tumbled head first over the handlebars and crashed into a neighbor's grass lawn. No broken bones, however. No thanks to me.
Another time, my parents demanded that I drive down to get my sister Laurie back home from her best friend's house. Her friend had a--no word of a lie--little mangy white haired french poodle that I was terrified of. As I reached the house, Laurie's friend let go of the beast, and it charged after me, and I fled the house on my bike, as fast as I could, wailing all the way. I'm positive that bike saved me from going the way of Marie Dressler.
I had a method to my madness.
My first goal was get him to enjoy riding. I sat him on the bike, and holding him, let him pump as fast as he could. I held on to the bike, running beside him. He was hesitant at first, but gradually learned to trust me. Then, slowly, I started to let go of the bike--at first, without warning, and quickly.
After a while, I let go entirely, and he pushed ahead a few feet. Then, realizing he was doing it alone, he grew timid and stop pumping.
"You did it yourself!" I cried out. He grinned (look at the picture above. Have you ever seen such a contented smile?)
Next time, I let go again, and this time, he went even farther. Bit by bit, he started to gain more confidence. Finally, I decided to let him go and asked him to really make an effort to keep pedaling for as long as he could.
Crash! Into a tree he went.
"Shouldn't you have taught him how to break first?" asked Annie, amused.
See, my thought was: don't teach him limitations, first and foremost. Teach him what was possible , before all else. Get him to LIKE what he's doing. Then, once he's seen his potential, what's possible, teach him about control, and all those other dull rules.
The next day, we worked on breaking. And then, stopping. After that, turning. After only two days, he had gotten it all down, and we were ready for our first ride down the street. Thankfully, the road to the beach house, which winded across the Bass River, while somewhat busy, was filled with people driving really slow, either to catch the view, or because the occupants of the car were so old.
By the time Josie showed up on Saturday, for our party, Theo was a master, and we had already gone on several long bike rides. He was dying to show her what he had learned.
At first, Josie was reticent. "Don't drive on the road," she said. "It makes me nervous."
Theo came back to me, dejected. "She won't let me do anything," he complained.
I squeezed his shoulder. "She has to learn to trust you," I said. "That'll come."
When we arrived home, I took his bike off the back of the car. "Can I ride on this road, Mom?" he asked, as we stood in the driveway, nodding. She nodded, and he hopped on his bike and practically zoomed down the road.
By the end of the night, Josie felt confident enough with his riding abilities to go for a ride with him down our busy main street. I knew it would only be a matter of time.
And that, my friends, is how my first wish was granted, and Theo learned how to fly.