Sunday, August 28, 2011

Making the switch (or thinking with your eyes open)

Following Thursday's Inner Hoon post, Mr4 (who, by the way, did not read that particular post) decided that today was the day to Lose The Training Wheels. He was ready to be a Big Boy. Fo' Real. So, with great ceremony, the little wheels were removed and he and I and Mr7 duly removed ourselves to the wide, open spaces of the local showground to see if we could, as Mr7 put it, get him going.

Half an hour into proceedings, huffing and puffing and with very sore hamstrings from bending over to hold the back of his seat (which is not very far off the ground), I called a halt. He had made some progress. He could push off and pedal a few rounds, but then it all went pear shaped. Let's just say that any distraction is a good distraction as far as Mr4 is concerned. And every time he spotted a distraction, his handle bars went left and he went with them.

As I carried his bike back to the car, I told him that he needed to concentrate a little better. Looking at motorbikes roaring past, for instance, was causing him to crash.

"But I was looking at the lovely day," he responded.

I know the day is lovely, but even so. If he wanted to ride his bike, he needed to think a little harder.

"But when I think really hard, I have to close my eyes, Mum," he responded. Er, yes, I could see how this would make staying on the bike difficult. (See Thursday's post about raising the legal driving age to 30.)

I told him that he needed to find a way to think hard with his eyes open.

Later, as we were driving out to view an antique food safe (I take them to all the best places, it's true), he told me that he'd had a breakthrough. "I've worked out how to think with my eyes open," he told me, pride infusing every syllable.


"There's a switch in my head," he confided. "If you push it one way, your eyes close. But if I push it back the other way, reeeeaaaallly hard, I can think with my eyes open."

Oh, that's all right then.

We are heading back to the showground tomorrow for round two. Let's hope that switch is in the right position.

Have you taught a child to ride a bike? Any tips for one who is distracted by 'the lovely day'?

[image: fieldnotes]


  1. Go Mr4! None of his cousins ride sans training wheels yet. I live in hope. I will remind them to think with their eyes open :-) x

  2. We didn't actually teach the children - just took the training wheels off and went and stayed at Mum and Dad's for a week. No tv, few toys, and a gently sloping kikuyu yard - perfect, really!

  3. In our house "Daddy's gear" was the fallback position for a very long time. Which meant my husband riding behind holding their bike while balancing precariously on his. Until one day his "gear" failed and the offspring learned to ride. Until you know, they fell off. But it was the start of great things.
    Can I just say I adore Mr4 and your conversations. Gold.

  4. I keep putting it off and putting it off. Mr 8 has had a brand new bike sitting in the garage since January, but refuses to try to learn on his own. I'm going to have to bite the bullet and do it sometimes soon. No idea how...

    Good luck tomorrow!

  5. Oh Mr 4! Bless his little spokey dokeys.
    We're still in training wheel mode. I still remember my big brother taking my training wheels off without my consent. I was so angry at him. But once he taught me to ride, oh! A whole world opened up.

  6. Oh, this is beautiful. I hope Mr4's gorgeous philosophies on life continue for many more years. And I hope he manages to ride with his eyes open tomorrow.

  7. Oh how cute is he! And brave. It's a big thing taking off the training wheels. When Miss 13 took hers off for the first time at 5, we took her down to the local park and just let her go. After a few (hundred) falls she got it. Miss 11 just rode her new bike at christmas time without them. I think she was about 6. Miss 5, is certainly not ready, whereas Miss 3 I'm sure would get it right now.
    They're all different aren't they?

  8. @Jodi - they certainly are all different. Mr7 was six and practically had to be dropped off the cliff to get the riding thing going. Mr4 is determined - but not quite dextrous enough. Not today anyway. Tomorrow is another day. And his eyes will be open...

    And yes, I'm very lucky. Mr4 is blogging gold.

  9. Go Mr 4! What a little star. No advice from me on how to encourage thinking with your eyes open. My 3 year still puts his hands over his eyes when asked to close them...Guess he hasn't found his switch yet

  10. My boy finally got going the day before his 7th birthday, and he was utterly utterly stoked.
    Your Mr 4 is a gem, I'm constantly stunned by the things he says.

  11. The best thing we ever tried was to take the training wheels and the pedals off, then give them a few days learning to "glide". When you put the pedals back on, it takes hardly any time to "get going". Haven't got any ideas about how to keep their eyes open. Good luck with that.

  12. I am standing by waiting for tips. I can't see Popps off the training wheels before she begins high school at the current rate.

  13. There are too many things to remember all at once when you first take off the training wheels...besides trying to listen to all the shouted instructions. What you need is a small rise in some local park or yard . Place the bike at the top of the hill and hold on untilhe is ready. Instruction: When you reach the bottom of the hill , pedal like crazy.
    This technique has worked for two boys and a girl. They are concentrating so hard on when they need to pedal that there is no distraction. They have some speed so balance is easier . No one gets hurt if its on the grass.

  14. I think it is one of the most difficult things to teach your kiddies. My girls learnt at about 4 with lots of falls, tears and tanties and that was just from me!!!! The little guy was hooning around at 2 1/5 and a few years later he is still a hoon. They are all very different and learn when they are ready. Good luck.

  15. nawww how precious is mr 4?! cuteness!
    I refused to learn as a child. I know I wanted to but I hated, even then, the process of being taught. One day I stole the neighbour boys bike and rode it home by myself.
    Mixed emotions for my parents I imagine. I was pretty pleased with myself though.

  16. Take the wheels off, put them on a small grassy slope (so if they fall it doesn't hurt) and let them find their balance. When they can glide link Mrs Catch said, they get them to pedal when they get to the bottom of the slope (don't need to take the pedals off). Mr 6 learned this way 2 months ago and one one month later Mr 3 learned as well and he is now great on a bike without trainers.

  17. They say "just like riding a bike" to infer that it's the one skill one can't forget. Not true, I contend. I'm with Mr. 4. It's so long since I've ridden a bike, that if there's the slightest distraction it all becomes a bit much. And let's not talk about pot holes...

  18. All I can say is I can relate to the daydreaming - for myself and my daughter!

  19. Way back in the olden days Ha Ha, we learned to ride by falling off repeatedly until we "got it".
    My kids all had training wheels which I think is a much kinder method of learning.

  20. I love his description of how to think with his eyes open. My younger son took an extra while to be able to ride his bike on his own. He used to run alongside his older brother while his brother rode his bike.


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