This was a very exciting week - we have reached arguably the biggest milestone of physical accomplishment since walking: riding a bicycle without training wheels. My very bright but extremely cautious Amy took the plunge and allowed me to remove her training wheels on Thursday night. I bribed her with a dollar. All I did after that was told her to keep her feet on the ground and glide like she's used to doing on her balance bike. Down the slight slope of the sidewalk in front of our house she went, and she instinctively put her feet on the pedals. "That's it!" I shouted, "Now just pedal!" And that was it. At first she just went ten yards or so and veered off into the grass to stop, but inside of an hour, as the sun set and the day cooled, she was completely comfortable on two wheels, and pedaling furiously up and down our quiet street. She was over-the-moon with pride, and I could hardly believe she'd done it so easily. I didn't get my camera out the whole time because I didn't want to jinx her, but when we were coming in for the night I did manage a picture.
We celebrated with ice cream cones though it was already past eight o'clock. And to make the night completely perfect we even saw a rainbow over the neighbor's house.
The next day we were planning a trip to Walmart anyway, and we found a kickstand for Amy's bike which she desperately wanted, and decided to get William a very nice and very reasonably priced little 12" Huffy for his very own. As I think I mentioned, he had been getting really good riding Amy's larger bike, but now that she had reclaimed it it seemed time for him to have pedal-wheels of his own. It's just perfect for him. It's called the Rockit and he can make it go really fast.
I think William could manage without training wheels too if he were just a bit bigger. The bike still overwhelms him if it doesn't stand up on its own, but his prowess on the small balance bike leads me to know he'll have no trouble without training wheels once he's a little larger.
I have to add, for anyone who is considering the whole balance bike thing, that I am totally sold on the concept. Amy in particular gained SO much confidence with her glider and went from never wanting to ride to zooming smoothly along in a matter of an afternoon with a balance bike. Same for William. The transition to pedaling without training wheels was easy, and I did not have to do the whole run-behind-holding-the-seat-letting-go routine, because Amy already knew how to balance while it rolled. The only downside to the balance bikes is the fact that they are separate bikes; additional expense and equipment, but if you come across them I can't say enough good things about that method for learning to ride.
And to conclude, all I could think about on Thursday night when I was about to burst with pride for my girl who had just conquered a huge, scary new thing, was how much it was just like every other milestone is for little ones. Just when you think you have them pegged as a "late walker" or figure that they are months away from talking or reading or any of the rest, all the sudden they just do it. I think I am always expecting these accomplishments to be more gradual, and I suppose the underlying work is. But for the most part it is an explosion, a sudden leap into complete competence, and it just amazes me every time. I do think that is my favorite thing about being a parent.