Living on an unpaved country road, the kids on the block had free reign of the stretch from one end of the road to the other. What traffic came our way was purely from neighbors, who knew to watch out for renegade bikers....of the elementary variety. The kids would tool up and down the road, braking hard to cause the back wheel to slide sideways, spraying anyone standing too close with bits of gravel. When the cloud of dust that erupted from the skidding tire blew away, proud faces appeared through the dust.
My son and his buddies would spend hours riding up and down, making pit stops at the house offering the best drinks or ice pops. Not to be outdone, my then 3 year old daughter, trailed behind, keeping pace as best she could on her pink Strawberry Shortcake bike, complete with training wheels. As a Christmas gift the previous year, she was out riding in the driveway even before the pile of wrapping paper had all been dealt with. It was her pride and joy, and at three, the training wheels allowed her to ride like a "big kid" on her bike.
One afternoon, while attempting to keep up with her brother, Katie's back wheel became suspended over a pothole, held aloft by the wheel in front and the trainers in the back. I can still picture her frantically pumping her legs as hard as she could, the back wheel spinning uselessly over the hole. With tears already forming in her eyes, she dismounted to pull her bike from the hated pothole. Rather than taking off once again to follow her brother, however, she came to the house instead.
Her teary eyed little face insisted she was a big girl now and didn't need the training wheels anymore. My husband and I looked at each other, deciding to give her the chance to prove herself. What was the worst that could happen? The training wheels were as easy to put back on as they were to take off, so off they came, and much to our surprise, our three year old took off down the driveway, and never looked back. Her sense of balance was amazing. We never had to run behind helping, encouraging, or balancing her little form on the speeding bike, as we had with our son before her.
Katie was a natural. Her athleticism on that little pink bike, at such a young age, was a precursor for future endeavors that were shining moments in her athletic career. Training wheels, after all, were for babies, and at three she was the most confident thing I had ever seen on wheels. That's my girl!
A warm country hug to all,