My father, while he was here for Christmas, took the girls up to the neighborhood park on their bikes, following behind on my bike. During the ride, he noticed that Lily wasn't really using her training wheels to balance and that she was riding a good deal of the time on two wheels. So on Christmas Day, he put her on the bike Ella had outgrown and started teaching her to ride. I thought for sure that dad was being overly optimistic in his efforts, but I was wrong. By the end of Christmas Day, Lily was riding small stretches on her own. The day after Christmas, dad worked with her again, and when B and I returned from his doctor's appointment, we turned onto the street to see Lily cruising along without a problem, even turning in big circles. I was absolutely flabberghasted.
Teaching Ella to ride without training wheels was a multi-year project with lots of starts and stops. We'd take her training wheels off, give it a try for a week or two until she'd get frustrated and demand that we put the training wheels back on. After a six-month break, we'd try again, and then take another six-month break. She'd go for weeks without riding her bike. B finally got her going this summer by taking her up to her school and letting her ride around the empty parking lot for an hour. As soon as she figured it out, Ella took off like a shot, which is what we knew would happen.
But she's a lot like me in temperament. If I can't do something well after my first few attempts, I'm liable to throw my hands up in disgust and walk away. I absolutely do not like not being able to something the right way. It's why my mom's insistence that I take tennis lessons was so frustrating to me. When I was ten and eleven, my lack of skill didn't bother me much, but by the time I was 16 and leaving swim practice early to go to tennis I had had it. I would get beyond frustrated when I would hit 19 perfect forehands and then send the 20th sailing over the side fence. I just don't have the patience for things like that, which is why I've never attempted golf. I'd end up pitching my clubs into the lake by the fourth hole.
Lily, on the other hand, has a surprising amount of stick-to-it-ness. She fell countless times while riding with my dad, but each time she'd pop right up again, calling out, "I'm OK!" Then she'd hop back on the bike and give it another go. She spent hours doing this. My poor dad must have run five miles back and forth with her, but she got it. Ella would have given up after the first couple of falls.
While Lily has now mastered riding her bike, she's still not so good at the stopping part. Instead of using her brakes or putting her feet down, she tends to aim for grass and tip over, always announcing that she's ok. She also needs to work on her steering. She's still in the phase where she runs smack into the things she wants to avoid. I'm trying to teach her to not look at trees and bushes and curbs, but it's slow going. So now we've started calling Lily "Crash," which she and Ella think is tremendously funny.
My goal is to get her stopping, starting and steering skills to the point where I can take both her and Ella down to the Trail and let them ride while I tow Campbell in my new trailer. I can't think of a better way to spend time outdoors with them.