Friday, June 27, 2014

She Rides!

Seven children growing up, we were lucky we were fed. It wasn't a matter of the parents not offering us food, but the problem was the cash flow. There wasn't one. I doubt if there was even a trickle when it came to cash. Toys were balls, bats, jacks, pickup sticks and a good imagination. Our playmates were our siblings. Our parents didn't arrange a play date with friends; they didn't have too. We had brothers and sisters a plenty.

I never had a bike but I remember foggily from my child brain of 8yrs old, the huge old rusty monstrosity that was my oldest brother's bike. I'm sure it wasn't purchased but given to him by a neighbor. Even he was too small for that huge bike. He couldn't sit on the seat but had to ride it by standing on the pedals. Of course it was much to huge for me and I don't remember ever trying to ride it. That's the totality of the memory of a bike when I was a child.

Eventually I did ride a bike but I was never comfortable on one. I didn't like for anyone to ride close to me and when April was a child, I remember the one ride I did with her. She, of course, was a child that always had a bike. She would zip around on it as kids will do. I remember telling her not to get close to me but she didn't listen and I remember putting that bike down when she zoomed up on me. That was the end of my bike riding which was never a lot to begin with. She got yelled at and probably didn't realize why I was so upset.

Fast forward, years and years later and I have a bike purchased for exercise. Eventually I too could zip around on it and I lost my fear of other riders too close or a car approaching and passing me. When my bike was stolen I replaced it. Recently replaced it. I haven't ridden it much yet. The weather is either too hot or too wet.

Both grandchildren learned to ride a bike at a very early age. Roller skates, bikes and skate boards, they took their lumps and never complained about the learning process.

Then along comes Carrie. Carrie is now 8 yrs. "almost 9". She has skates which she has never learned to use. She got her first bike with training wheels at the age of 4. She took a few spins on it but never got to the point where the training wheels could be removed. Carrie is not into anything that could cause pain.

The daughter, Carrie's mom, has felt as though the caboose called "Carrie" has been slighted. She felt it was her fault that Carrie didn't engage in physical activities and riding a bike should be part of her childhood.

Yesterday we gathered together at ye ole Walmart for a bit of bike shopping. The colors entranced Carrie. Her mother would pick out the bike Carrie indicated and Carrie would climb aboard. Mom would hold the bike up while Carrie "rode" down the aisle. Blue bikes with butterflies, iridescent  painted one, a pink one and a frosted purple number was tried.

We rolled out of Walmart with the frosted purple. From there the excitement of getting a bike took a nose dive. The concrete pad adjacent to the patio was used as a training ground. Because of the lack of runway, she would end up in the grass and bog down without ever getting into "traveling mode".

Today the daughter returned with Carrie in tow. When I returned from the bank, they were already here and Carrie was trying to navigate down the sidewalk. Hot and sweating and tearful, she had already dumped the bike a few times. When she ended up in the rose bush, she had had enough. Angrily she crawled off the bike and stomped toward the house.  Carrie still did not want to learn to ride a bike.
 Sidewalks are much too narrow for a beginner. I remember sidewalks and learning. We moved to the middle of the street.

Take off is the most difficult part of the ride. Spinning the pedal to the apex, we instructed her to press the pedal down and move the other foot to the opposite pedal as she reached the bottom of the circle. Though she understood, the execution took a while. With a little push she could keep the bike upright and with the added advantage of the wide road, she was pedaling along. I, in the meantime got my bike and rode along behind her.

Each time she stopped, she had to be helped to start again. At least she noted some progress and the tears had stopped. Her mom had collected another bike from the shed and rode in front of her. After a few more tries, she got it. She could take off from a standing stop all by herself. We were beyond pleased and relieved. We rode!

As we returned home below black rain filled clouds, she asked "Nanny, can we ride again tomorrow?"

"Of course Carrie. We can ride everyday!"

She is so proud of herself. I asked if she liked it and she smiled hugely and said "Yes!"

She rides! Today and tomorrow and hopefully for a long long time!

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