Month 50

Month 50

Dear Olivia,

You learned to ride a bike yesterday and for you, this is quite an accomplishment.  An accomplishment that is roughly a year in the making.  Let me take you back to December of last year.  I purchased the most adorable little Schwinn I could get my hands on and I was confident that given your success and love for your balance bike, that you would be thrilled to have a big girl bike that you could call all your own.  This was the gift I was most excited about and even saved it for last, you know, to build up the excitement.  When you unveiled it, you had the most ho-hum face I had ever seen on a child.  Of course I’m jumping up and down all around you, showing you all the features; the pretty cartoon drawings on the frame, the streamers on the handlebars and my personal favorite, the little bag attached on the handlebars for you to carry all your treasures in.  You humored me for the time being and quickly walked away and began playing with your other items.  Being a little confused at your reaction, I quickly coughed it up to you being distracted on Christmas morning. 

Later that afternoon, I asked you if you wanted to give your bike a try outside.  You weren’t thrilled at the suggestion but agreed to give it a try.  I understand it probably looked scary – I had removed the training wheels because you had already mastered the balance bike and there’s no sense introducing training wheels if you can do the other.  You hesitantly sat on the bike and I held on to the seat and I gently pushed you along.  We rode down the street for roughly twenty seconds or so when you started crying and declared that this bike wasn’t for you.  This has been the scenario for the last twelve months.  You were completely crippled by fear over learning to ride a bike.  I refused to give up on you because I knew – I knew with every shred of my body that you would love riding your bike if you could just overcome your fear.

You were so terrified of falling and hurting yourself that we went out and purchased a complete set of knee pads, elbow pads, hand guards and a helmet – all to give you the reassurance you needed to suppress your anxiety over the matter.  You were terrified of practicing in the street.  Every time you heard a car in the distance, you quickly dropped your bike and booked it for the house.  We then moved our practices to the back yard so you could feel comfortable in a very very confined space.  So confined that we only have enough room for tight circles around the patio table.  We would do half a dozen laps around the table when you would proclaim that you were all done and you would declare again that this bike was too big and not for you. 

The challenge was at hand and I refused to give in to your fear.  You quickly become debilitated by fear and you often jump at the chance to give up if something proves to be a little difficult for you.  I was not going to have a child that did not know how to ride a bike so at least once a week, I drag out the little unloved Schwinn with the now faded streamers and cracked handlebars and I try to talk you off a ledge and convince you that you are capable of doing this.  You immediately start crying when I say it’s time to practice and I feel like a lousy parent for forcing you against your will.  The neighbors are probably peering through their blinds at us shaking their heads at my parenting.

Yesterday was no different.  Yesterday was like any other day this past year when I forced you to ride your bike.  There were lots of tears and lots of me trying to find a new angle at approaching this wonderful toy that has become in your eyes, the toy of death.  I asked you what you really wanted from Santa this Christmas and through your tears, you muffled out a little reply; a pink princess car.  I didn’t have to inquire – I know it’s the God-awful Power Wheels jeep in the most obnoxious pink there ever was with Aurora, Cinderella, and Ariel sprawled across the hood.  This is the toy every child loves and obsesses over and every parent hates.  I consider it the gateway toy; a gateway to Diabetes and general laziness.  I’ve watched the kids in our court park their butts in those loud crappy bundles of plastic and troll around the block.  They don’t ride bikes and when they run, it’s to hop in to another crappy battery-operated pile.  It should be pretty clear that I hate these things with a passion so you can imagine my disappointment when you asked for that.  Given the frustrations we both have experienced over the course of the year relating to the bike and the permanent sciatica I now suffer from, I said ok. 

It’s true, I agreed to get you a pink princess car if you could ride your bike all by yourself.  Given your record with the bike, I figured you possessing a pink princess car was a longshot.  You agree and ask for one more try.  Guess who’s getting a pink princess car.  Apparently that is all the motivation you ever needed.  You went up and down the court riding towards various family members and each time you jumped off screaming, “HOORAY!!  I DID IT!!  Can I have my pink princess car now?”  So now your Dad and I are furiously trying to figure out how to get out of this one.  I know if we don’t hold up our end of the deal, you may not trust our gimmicks in the future and if we do deliver, you’ll never touch your bike again when you have the access to a poopy pink motorized plastic car.  I’m getting the impression that I just got taken advantage of. 

Despite the horrible promise I never should have made, it was an incredible feeling to watch you accomplish this huge milestone.  We’ve worked so hard at this and to see the smile on your face was a moment as a parent that I’ll always remember and cherish.  I do feel like I should earn some sort of merit badge or be allowed to add it as a line item on my resume for tackling this not so small feat.  The one thing I did take away from this though is I will most definitely not be teaching you to drive a car.  That little morsel of fun will be saved for your Father.  Congratulations my dear – you played your Mother and ultimately negotiated for a toy that never may have come in to existence in this house otherwise.  Well played Olivia, well played.






Footage of the first solo ride


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