A few weeks ago my 5 1/4 year old grandson looked at me with his big, brown eyes and asked me in his soft, sweet voice,
“Omi, remember a long time ago you told me you would buy me a 2-wheeler when I turned 5?”
No, I didn’t remember but I could hear myself saying that when he turned three and learned to ride his brother’s bike. So, I told my grandson that if he’s a really good boy and his Mommy says it’s okay, we will go get him a new bike.
I was actually impressed that he waited 3 months past his birthday to tell me that the purchase was past due.
“Whew,” he said, apparently relieved that his request was being considered.
It’s so much fun buying the kids things, but even more fun when they enjoy and relish the new toys. In this case, my grandson came over to me and gave me a big hug as soon as I told him I was giving his mom the money.
A few days later, the little guy went with his mom and brothers to choose a bike at Toys-R-Us and pretty soon, the big guy was riding around the backyard showing off his skills.
A new shiny bike is so much more than a plaything or gift. When a child rides a bike without training wheels, she feels in charge. I still recall the first Schwinn that I had with the banana seat. I remember the feeling of empowerment as I sped down my block with my neighbors.
When a child rides a bike, he is developing his emotional skills empowerment and confidence.
They learn to trust. I still recall my older sister teaching me to ride my bike by holding on to the seat gently while I practiced steering with the handlebars. I trusted that she would only leave go for as long as I was safe.
When a child rides a bike, she learns responsibility by taking care of it, locking it up and keeping it covered so it doesn’t get ruined from the rain or snow.
In most city neighborhoods, if you don’t lock the bike when parking it in front of a store or house, it will be stolen. I recall a particular time that my eldest son left his bike in front of the library for “just 5 minutes” and returned to find his bike gone. Taken.
One day this past week, the boys were riding their bikes in the backyard. A few times, my grandson called out to me “Look, I can ride with only 1 hand…” as he demonstrated lifting his arm for a few seconds before grasping the handlebar again.
But more than his skill of balancing on the bike with one, two (or zero! Help!) hands, was his precious smile and look of contentment, focus and satisfaction.
To me, that was priceless.