As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, my youngest daughter is the cautious type.  I have never had to worry about this child wandering off…in any unfamiliar environment she clings to me like Velcro.  She’s disinclined to attempt anything that might cause her discomfort, from learning new physical skills to trying new foods.  That’s how she got to be 7½ without learning to ride a bike.


Last summer I tried to teach her.  She was so fearful she could barely sit on her little pink Barbie bike without panicking, even with training wheels on it.  So I let it go.


Recently, though, she’s become fairly skilled at riding a scooter.  Since that’s a balance trick not unlike staying up on a bike, I judged her ready.  And we had beautiful weather for the long weekend.  The time had come.


I admit I applied a little pressure to talk her into it.  “Other kids your age have been riding bikes for a year or two already,” I pointed out.  “And Tigger’s going on a bike trip with her class.  If your class goes on a bike trip next year and you haven’t learned to ride, you won’t be able to go.” 


It worked.  She decided to try. 


She’s outgrown the little pink Barbie bike, so we dusted off Tigger’s outgrown big kid bike and pumped up the tires. (Tig rides a women’s bike now, that’s how big she is.  Oy.)  I figured that with any skill involving wheels the most important thing is to know how to fall.  Or in this case, how to catch herself.


So we practiced just standing there with her butt on the seat and one foot on the ground.  Then we practiced with the other foot.  Next we moved a short way (with me holding the bike) and she practiced braking and putting a foot down to stop.  Little Bit felt a lot better once she knew she wasn’t necessarily going to go crashing to the ground if she couldn’t keep the bike up.  That was yesterday.


This morning I ran along holding the back of the seat while she (sort of) steered.  That was exhausting.  This afternoon I told her she was on her own.  She would never get the balance trick down if I held on and righted her.


She pushed off, traveled a few inches, and put her foot down.  Repeat.  Again and again.  Finally, almost by accident, she managed a full revolution of the pedals.  Repeat.  An hour later she could ride a few wobbly feet.  An hour after that she was cruising circles around the cul de sac.  Just like that. 


I’m so proud of that kid (you can probably tell).  It was hard for her.  She was scared.  She did it anyway.  She triumphed!


Meanwhile, Tigger has been given permission to leave the cul de sac and  ride around the neighborhood a bit.  It is perhaps a sad indication of how we overprotect kids these days that she had to get to 11 years old before she could do this.  She returns exhilarated with the freedom and the power. 


You go, girls.





  1. My six-year old has a similar personality to your Little Bit (minus the fear of new foods…..she loves to try new foods).  This is why I was SHOCKED when she was the first of four kindergartners on our cul de sac to ditch the training wheels and start riding on 2-wheels!  She got it down within minutes and we were sooooo proud of her!  (The best part was that she shamed the very cocky and not-so-nice kindergarten boy on the street into doing it, too.  She did not gloat or anything, but he couldn’t stand having a GIRL beat him to the punch!)Congrats to Little Bit and good luck with the advancing freedom of  Tigger!

  2. Way to go, kiddo!  That was brilliant of you to teach her how to catch herself from falling.I remember learning how to ride a bike.  It was a yellow boy’s bike, and I loved it.  I was so excited when I realized I was riding by myself that I turned my body around… and promptly crashed.  Ah, sweet memories. 

  3. Excellent ….congrats to Little Bit.  The first time soloing on a bike is always a bit scary but now she’s off and running…so to speak.   Look out for the driver’s licenses they will want next.

  4. Dang, first the bike riding and before you know it they’re learning to drive a stick shift!  Oh wait, that’s MY child. 😉  Still the start and stop and start and stop seems awfully familiar to me right now. Congrats to her. I had one of each. Eldest mastered the unicycle at one point, then got bored with it so probably can’t ride one now. 

  5. That’s a great story. See?  Kids are all different.  They all advance at different rates.  And sooner or later they’re all on the even playing field.I’ll never forget sitting in my house when my son comes flying in the door.  “DAD!  YOU GOTTA SEE THIS! KRISTIN IS RIDING MY BIKE!”   I went outside and there was my daughter, looking like a little tadpole riding around and around as if she’d been doing it for years, and not seconds.  She must have been like 4 or something. 

  6. So much depends on the kid–I was a flop at learning to ride a bike and couldn’t figure out two and two.  Plus they gave me a giant ten speed when I was too little.  So it sat for about five years until I suddenly just knew instinctively what to do.  I congratulate you on being such a positive, supportive and patient mom!

  7. Eleven.  Precisely the age that *I* was when I got my first bike.  (I had to win the thing — my mother thought they were too dangerous to buy me one.  And that was at least 100 years ago.)But I digress.  Yea Little Bit!  This is the beginning of FREEDOM and INDEPENDENCE!  WHOO HOO!  And age 11 is perfect!

  8. Wow….I was, what, in the 4th grade before I learned how to ride a bike? (My sister was a freshman in high school, so I don’t feel so bad–we learned at basically the same time).  It took me only a little bit to learn, probably ’cause I was so pissed at being so damn old and not knowing how.  Congrats to Little Bit! Also, I agree with the over-protectedness of today.  Have you ever listened to your parents and grandparents tell stories of THEIR youth?!  “Oh, sometimes we’d ride the streetcar all day”, “We’d wake up at 6 in the morning and go off to the dump all day”, stuff like that.  Now, we see a couple of kids walking down the street by themselves, and wonder, “Where’s their parents?! Will someone PLEASE think of the children?!!!”

  9. Yo its tigger here typin from my moms computer  yep its me and mrs transvestite rabbit here is growling at me to use proper grammar. No Thank You! yeah my lil sis is real psyched to ride! like 2 days after she first tried shes ridin like a pro! thats my sista. Yes my mother overprotects me and it is rather annoying. CYA!!

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