Thursday, August 12, 2010

Learning to ride

For months now, my dear daughter has been asking if I could teach her to ride a bike. Last week I finally relented, and told her that Sunday would be the day. Fate lent a gentle push, as Saturday evening we were offered a "like new" girls bicycle from some good friends. This really cemented the deal, as it meant I wouldn't have to don mining gear and crawl deep into our attic to find Nick's old BMX bike. Plus, this girls bike has pretty blue flowers on it! Charming.

I remember teaching Nick, and the long hours of spine-wrenching torture of leaning over and holding him while running. Try leaning at a 35 degree angle and running at full-gait. Yeah, see? Juliana, for whatever reason, was much easier. A couple of passes up and down our block while I held the handelbars and seat, then it was just a matter of supporting her under her arms as she learned the intricacies of steering. By the second day, I could feel her balance was improving to the point where I felt I could let go - with her permission, of course. We tried it, and sure as snuff, she rode for a second or two. A few more minutes of practice and she was riding for ten seconds at a stretch. Then, the inevitable happened. As my heart struggled to pump blood to my legs and my leaden lungs strained to expand, I dropped behind her at one point. Without me to spot her, she panicked, turned sharply to the right, and rode onto a lawn where she promptly laid the bike down with her under it. She was upset - rightfully so. The first crash on your bike is always the worst, regardless of the degree of injury. But beyond that, my repeated promises of "Daddy won't let you crash, so don't worry," came rushing back. Damn heart and lungs! What did I ever do to to you?!?  Oh yeah. . .nothing!

We went out again last night and I ran more than I have since high school. She rode for the longest stretch yet - over 20 seconds. This time I forced myself to keep pace, and this time it was me that collapsed on the lawn, after gliding her slowly to a stop. I recovered without any tears, and she decided to walk with me back to the house. I think she understood, probably better than I, when we'd both had enough for one evening.

(Per)Posterous - The strangeness just keeps coming.

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