The Bike in the Closet
My 10 year-old daughter, Joy, received a bike about a year ago, either for her birthday or for Christmas. It would sit in the closet collecting dust and losing air in the tires. Every time I looked for stored items in the closet I had to go through this bike. It was like the keeper of the gate. It would remind me of my promise to myself to take Joy outside to learn how to ride a bike.
My busy schedule simply did not allow it. I was always swamped with work, thoughts of work, church, thoughts of church, or I would simply lose energy at the end of the day.
Inspired by another single mother’s facebook post about how she taught her son how to ride a bike within 30-minutes, I was motivated more than ever. Weeks would go by before I found the time, but one day I put all cares aside. No laundry got done, the house would not be clean, I would read no emails this particular day, and most interestingly, I skipped church. Yep!
We did it. We went outside and took the bike with us. After driving to the park, and giving Joy a few instructions on how to balance the bike, I remembered the tires were flat. Ehhh! I toiled with the idea of teaching Joy how to ride this bike with flat tires, but common sense prevailed. We had to pause to get air in the tires. In my head, this cut into my 30-minute window of teaching Joy this common gift of childhood of riding a bike.
Gratefully, I found a mechanic across the street from the park who kindly put air in the tires for free. We returned to the park, which was quite empty for a Sunday morning. I continued to give instructions about how to balance the bike by using your butt. Surprisingly, these set of instructions worked. Within minutes she was balancing the bike with her butt. In other words, she was able to keep it balanced while she pedaled one to two full turns.
My next lesson was just as simple, “Now that you are able to balance with your butt, now balance the bars by keeping the handle bars straight.” The first try was a dud and so was the second. But, then I saw a smirk on her face, like she finally understood what she was doing wrong and how she was going to make it right. Lo and behold, it happened. She pushed off, balanced with her butt, and kept the bike steady with the handle bars. Yayyy! She did it. She did it.
Joy would ride about 30 to 50 feet, stop the bike, turn it around by walking it, and ride it again. After several tries at it, I pushed her to ride around the entire track to teach herself how to turn smoothly. Joy took the challenge. She went around the entire Betsey Head track. Oh she got stuck at times, especially when she was the furthest away from me. It was at those times, I simply had to look across the track and pray that she would not become discouraged and give up. When she made it back to me, I encouraged her, “You did good. I’m so proud of you.” She shrugged and smiled. I could tell she had mixed emotions. I asked, “Do you want to do it again?” She agreed. After this round, she made it back with excitement, “Mommy, Mommy! This time I only got stuck four times. Last time I got stuck nine times.” I joined in with the excitement, “Good for you!”
When we left the park, I noticed that it had been about an hour. I’m not sure if I taught her how to ride a bike in under 30-minutes. I’m just grateful that the bike got out of the closet and that Joy learned how to ride. I imagined that this would be a rites of passage between a daughter and her father; instead, God had chosen me to share this moment with my