A couple of months ago the Gort was talking about school – specifically getting to school [on time?] ‘Maybe I could ride my bike to school one day,’ he mused. And seeing as we’re living within walking distance from said school, this probably sounds like a perfectly reasonable request. The kind of request to which most parents would respond ‘that’s a great idea!’
I thought about it for a second or two. There are two schools of thought on how parents should respond when their children have questionable ideas: (1) Let them pursue their bad idea and find out for themselves whether it was worth doing, (2) Do everything in your power to keep them from making fools of themselves.
For example, if the Gort had announced he wanted to wear nailpolish to school, some free-thinking parents would say let him wear the nailpolish even if his classmates might make fun of him and other more controlling types would say don’t let him wear the nailpolish, he’ll be teased.
I like to think I’m a little laissez-faire when it comes to certain unconventionalities, i.e. the Gort’s clothing choices. After all, I did let the kid wear a lifejacket to a public function once. And I do let him go to school every day wearing bizarre combinations of stripes and colors.
But a bike? To school?
‘Yeah, I can’t let you do that,’ I began, ‘trust me, you do not want to take a bike with training wheels to school when you’re in the second grade,’ I spelled it out for him.
Because yes, our darling boy at the tender age of 8, was still riding around on a [too small] bike….with training wheels. In his defense, his parents are somewhat to blame. We never did sign him up for a week of Pedalheads Camp where they all but guarantee your child will ride sans training wheels. And we didn’t do the ‘hold-on-to-the-back-of-a-bike-and-run-along-the sidewalk-until-the-kid-can-ride’ thing, either. And the boy never expressed more than a passing interest in moving beyond the four-wheeled stage, either.
We were slackers, all of us.
So our blond wonder took it upon himself to master the art of riding a two-wheeled bike. For the past week or so, he’s been dragging an [even tinier] purple bike from the garage and ‘riding around’ on the grass in the backyard.
It’s a little bike some neighbors passed on to us, one that was never particularly popular due to its color and size and wonky tires, hence it sat in the garage without training wheels. Used by no one.
The Gort could easily sit on the bike and ‘walk’ it around the yard with his feet. Finally, when he felt more comfortable, he began to balance and pedal for small spurts of time. A nanosecond grew into a few seconds, which turned into riding in circles around the yard.
So today, at roughly 4.08pm, we Johnsons gathered in the alley behind our house to set our new rider free.
‘That was AWESOME!’ he announced after navigating the length of the alley a couple of times.