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Getting with the program?


I’m very proud of how well my two daughters, ages 10 and 7, can get around town on their bikes. In fact, they ride so well that people are sometimes incredulous. When I wrote about car-free living on What to Expect a year ago, one reader said I had lost all credibility by claiming my 6-year-old could handle a 10-mile round trip. Well, she could, and I was a proud mama.

So I’ve a little consternated that my 5-year-old son, who has shown himself to be kind of athletic, has refused to learn to ride his 2-wheeler. I’m not saying he keeps falling when he tries, I’m saying he will not get on the thing. He wants me to put training wheels on it, and I (knowing that training wheels are not a very effective way to get kids cruising on two wheels) have refused. We’ve been at an impasse, and we have stayed that way for the past year. I didn’t really press the matter, since I had a trailer on the back of my bike that I could use to haul the little guy along wherever we needed to go.

Unfortunately, at the end of the school year, the trailer just fell apart. It had been an old used model, and after some time of heavy daily use, it collapsed. With no car, I’ve been stuck walking whenever I need to go to the store or anywhere else with my son. Since it’s summer vacation, I usually do need to bring him with wherever I go.

Today, I signed the kids up for two weeks of daily swimming lessons, a short car ride away. Then I told Toth that we should go to the park so we could practice 2-wheeler riding on the blacktop. He said no way. I told him he would not be able to go to swimming lessons if he didn’t have a way to get there. He said uh-uh. I said we would have to decline future birthday invitations without a way to get there. He said whatever. Getting desperate, I said that once he had learned to ride, our first family bike ride would be to Tucker’s ice cream parlor, to get him a Sunday. He said no dice.

I left the room in exasperation. I actually started typing this post, titling it “When one family member won’t get with the program.” Then Toth started calling me from upstairs.

“WHAT?” I bellowed up at him from my downstairs home office.


Not sure if it was the threats or the bribery that worked, but I will post pics of the results later. He has a really low-to-the-ground bike, so we’ll using it as a glide bike, working with this method. Wish us luck!


Well … It’s gonna be awhile yet. Toth gamely started out today pushing with his feet, doing a few short glides, and commenting that his low-to-the-ground bike was like the “glide bikes” he sees other kids riding. But eventually his legs got a little scraped by the pedals, and he fell over a couple times, and by the time we reached our playground where we were going to practice on the blacktop, he didn’t want to anymore.

On the way home, he consented to sit on the bike pedaling while I pushed him, but only if I promised not to take either of my hands off his handlebars. So, it’s progress. But he’s a ways from riding.

By the way, I have continually offered to take off the pedals so he won’t get scraped, but he strenuously objects.