Family Magazine

Milestone Week

By Sherwoods
This week Joseph learned how to ride a bike.  Before this week, I'd taught three children to ride a bike.  I don't really enjoy teaching this skill (but let's be honest, I don't actually enjoy teaching any skill.  It's a good thing I homeschool my children) because it's so uncomfortable to do.  There's a lot of leaning over holding on to the bike while trying to avoid being sideswiped by pedals.  I still have a bloodstain on one sandal from when I taught Edwin to ride his bike.
Usually I teach children to ride a bike when they're four or five.  Once the training wheels are ditched, it's a lot easier to keep up with the siblings and also it's much quieter - who knew training wheels could be so dang noisy?  When Joseph was four, Eleanor was little or it was summer or it was winter and when he was five I was pregnant with William and then William was little.  When he was six and it wasn't deathly hot outside and I wasn't pregnant, the local park where we went for bike riding got closed and turned into a fancy soccer field, so there wasn't anywhere to learn.
And that's how we got to Joseph being less than a month away from seven and still not knowing how to ride a bike.  I put it off earlier because it was just too hot outside.  If I'm going to be running around while keeping a bike from falling over for the five hundredth time while a child is dripping in snot because of their scraped knee or elbow, I'm not going to be dripping in sweat while doing it.
So this past Wednesday it was: 1. not hot, 2. not cold, 3. not raining, 4. William wasn't sleeping, and 5. I wasn't pregnant.  It was finally the day.
I hauled out Joseph's bike and, of course, the tires were all flat.  I think that sometimes the bikes all get together in the garage at night and let the air out of each other's tires just so I have to pump up the tires over and over and over again.  I don't like pumping up bike tires.
After the tires were pumped up, Joseph hopped on and started pedaling while I had a firm grip on his neck.  Necks are higher than bike seats and so require less bending over.  "Now don't let go," Joseph commanded me in a nervous voice, "I don't want to fall over!"
So I held on to him while he started pedaling down the street.  After thirty or forty feet, I noticed that he was balancing pretty well without any help from me, so I let go.  Often children don't notice that they're on their own until a few feet later and so I waited for the realization to hit Joseph and the loud protesting to begin.  Instead he rode to the end of the street.  "Hey Mom!" he told me, "I can do this own my own! Watch me!"  Then he rode back towards me, past me, and down to the other end of the street, waving as he went by.
So I shrugged my shoulders, pulled out Eleanor's bike, and started teaching her to ride.
This week I also potty-trained William.  I like to potty train my children early because 1. I'm a sucker for punishment and 2. my one nod to crunchiness (everyone has to have one I suppose) is that I cloth diaper my children.
I have potty-trained five children previous to William and so I knew how things were going to go - at least a week of pure insanity followed by slowly improving bladder control.  I've done this enough times that I've mostly run out of emotional hysteria and cleaning up puddles of urine doesn't drive me to insane rage like it used to.  I know that eventually all developmentally normal children potty-train and that cleaning up puddles will not last forever, even if it feels like it will.
So far William has had five total accidents in seven days and has had dry diapers after going to the park on Saturday and going to church today.  When I put him on the toilet, he uses it within five minutes, and when he isn't on the toilet, he stays dry.  I'm still scratching my head over how easy it has been, but I'm not complaining.
Some weeks are particularly horrible and it feels like nothing will ever go right and that progress is something that happens to everyone but you.  But this week was not one of those weeks.  I'm going to savor the feeling for as long as possible.

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