Life is absurd. And life is precious. Family is a lot of both.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Pro Circuit

Sometimes my husband gets to have all the fun.

Take last weekend when he yanked off the training wheels for Child #5 once and for all! We've done this for the same kid once and for all at least three times before. Teaching kids to ride a bike is a lot like teaching them to use the potty. That is, some children take right to it and make you feel like a professional coach. And some kids make you feel like a professional loser.

Number 5 has never liked the feeling he calls "wibbly wobbly". It took us a while to get that, but made sense when we recalled that he never liked the baby swing, was terrified of sliding down the pole at the playground, and long refused to climb a ladder even on his bunk bed. Yes, he may have vertigo issues, but at age 7 the reliance on training wheels was getting a little ridiculous. So off they came. Again. Only this time Superdad was super serious.

Our #5 is no different than the rest of his siblings in that he talks a lot. And as I watched him struggling with that wibbly wobbly bike while Superdad held on to the back of his seat and they went round and round the circle, his mouth never stopped moving. Superdad reported later that the one-sided conversation went like this: "This is really a bad idea. I really don't think this is a good idea. I don't like this idea. This is really a bad idea." Superdad also reported that listening to that one-sided conversation while jogging hunched over going round and round the circle is a quick way to develop a migraine.

I stepped out to check their progress about an hour into the training session. It was clear that the bike rider had the concept. He was upright, pedaling and balanced well on his two wheels. For about five feet. Then, each and every time he got going he just planted his shoes to stop the bike and picked up his bad idea chorus. Superdad impressed me by not tossing the bike and its rider over the fence. What's more frustrating than a kid who CAN do something but just WON'T?!

"Listen, buddy," he said. "We are not stopping until you ride around this entire circle without stopping. Do you hear me? No dinner, no potty breaks, we're not going inside to sleep until you KEEP PEDALING!" Superdad was getting his cape a little bit into a wad. Unflustered, #5 planted his shoes and pointed to a tiny notice printed on the side of his bike. "Can't do that, Dad," he replied. "It says right here that it's dangerous to ride a bicycle after dark."

To Superdad's credit, he laughed.

It didn't take long until everything clicked -- like it always does eventually -- and our newest bike rider was off and zooming. Round and round the circle he flew, still talking all the while. Only now he'd changed his tune to, "Look at me! I'm a super good rider. Check out my tricks!"

Superdad collapsed on the grass beside me as we watched. After a while our little guy squealed to a stop, high-fived his dad, and proclaimed before taking off again, "You know, if you ever give up your job as a ninja, you could be a professional bike teacher."

"Ninja?" I asked.

"Well, yeah," Super(Ninja?!)dad answered with a grin. "I told him my job in the city is being a professional ninja and he believes me. I'm not ready to break it to him that I'm just a lawyer."

I laughed so hard I felt downright wibbly wobbly.

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