In the Saddle: Rewarding a rite of passage
Sunday was D-Day (or should I say B-Day) in our house: My 7-year-old daughter was going to ride a two-wheeler, or she wasn’t going to ride a bike at all this summer.Though her father and I aren’t generally ones to push our kids, we knew it was time to ditch the training wheels. And, despite her protests, we knew she really wanted to do it. So without much discussion, we marched out our front door and into the street. We asked if she wanted to go to the park, where the grass landing might be softer. No!We asked if she wanted to borrow a neighbor’s bike, which is jury-rigged with a handle so mom or dad can gently guide the budding bicyclist. No! We asked if she wanted to just bag the whole idea and go bike-free for the summer. No!So in typical snot-nosed-kid-fashion, Hannah put her stubborn streak to use and went ahead and rode that bike.And it was quite a sight: Dressed in a pink skirt with a matching pink bike helmet, and armed with elbow and knee pads, Hannah hopped on the bike. My husband pushed her forward. She wobbled, put her feet down, crossed her arms against her chest and sighed. Rob pushed her again, a little harder this time. She peddled, because she had no choice, and then just kept on peddling. Around and around the cul-de-sac she went. We cheered; our neighbors applauded. Even her brother was impressed. And Hannah simply beamed. Learning to ride a bike is a big moment – and she was part of the club, at last.Of course later that day we learned the real motivation for her finally choosing to ride a bike. When we went to a local bike shop to get a new tube for her brother’s bike, she reminded us: “You said if I learned to ride a bike, I could get this. And this …”A flowered basket and pink tassels for her handlebars seem like a small price to pay for such a significant rite of passage. But it makes me wonder: What will she want when she passes her driver’s test?
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