Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Memorial day to remember

For his third birthday, we got Alec a balance bike. A couple of kids in our courtyard had been riding them around, and it seemed to us like a fun alternative to training wheels. The idea is that the child can push themselves along and gradually start gliding farther and farther, building up the ability to balance and steer.
That whole building up process took Alec maybe a week back in January, and since then he has been getting more skilled and confident on his balance bike. Yesterday morning we went for a walk/run to Lake Lagunita (a little over a mile away) and he balance-biked the whole way (and back).

For whatever reason, yesterday afternoon we decided to try riding a bike with pedals. We borrowed a bike from a neighbor and set to it. Alec was fairly apprehensive about this, and took several minutes of just slowly and barely moving, just pushing himself with his feet little by little. He was resistant to our encouragement to try and glide farther and/or put his feet on the pedals.

I finally got him to agree to pedal if I was holding onto his shoulders so that he wouldn't tip over. We pedaled in one direction, with me holding on the whole time to build up his trust, and then turned around. On the way back we got moving good enough that I let go for a second or two, with my hands in place to grab him if he faltered. He did great and when we came to a stop I told him that he had done it, and I think this boosted his confidence. On the very next time he went about 50 feet by himself, and then was basically good to go. We ran and got Brittney to come watch, and then he had to show all of his friends.

This whole time Alec is just beaming, a simple satisfied smile on his face as he pedaled around the courtyard. I jogged next to him his first couple of times around, but it became clear that he was very sturdy and very careful, and so I let him go by himself. After about 3 laps, he was willing to try starting by himself and was successful at that right away too. I was just standing their dumbfounded as he proceeded to ride around for the next hour and a half or so, like he couldn't get enough. (We were unsuccessful in getting him to come in and eat with us, but I can't blame him, since just watching him was more fun than eating for us parents!)

It was amazing to watch him go from being reluctant to confident and able in a matter of minutes. I think it would be hard for anyone to be that sturdy and sure on their first day of riding a bike. And to see the joy on his face as he enjoyed his new found freedom and speed. What a wonderful experience for all of us. Charlie even clapped for him spontaneously as he rounded the corner one time.

Charlie had fun learning to drive and trying some rollerskates from our neighbor (a girl, if you couldn't tell). He is so funny and different than Alec. Every time that his feet would roll out from under him, so that he was basically just hanging by his arms on my hands, he would just start laughing like it was the funniest thing. Alec in similar situations seems to have been more scared by such near falls. So fun as our boys grow up. I love being a dad.

Also, I am totally sold on the balance bike idea and would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone interested in getting a child to learn to ride. We got ours at www.kazambikes.com
and have been very pleased.


Shelly Beth said...

That's so cool at 3 1/2!! Way to go! Never seen one of those balance bikes before. Sweet!

Ryan + Jess said...

That is amazing! What brave boys you have.

dixie said...

Wow. That is just incredible. What a kid! And he rides like an old pro. What fun!! And I love Charlie in his pink skates and armbands.

trailrunner said...

What a wonderful experience for all of you!
An alternative to a "balance bike" is to take the pedals off a regular bike. We've used this method to help several kids learn to ride (but none at 3 1/2!)

trogonpete said...

rock on alec!!

Heather said...

way to go Alec!! Archibald athleticism in action :)

Radene said...

Wow I can't believe how Charlie looks. Last time we saw him I really think he was like months old. So cute! Love that kids' smile! So fun for Alec!!! I'll bet he loves being able to ride. Congrats!

Joell Archibald said...

What a blessing being a dad is! It is incredible to nurture, teach and then see your kids "fly" (on in this case, pedal) on their own power. I think our love for our children here on this earth is the closest parallel we have to the love our Heavenly Father has for us. He nurtures us and teaches us and must experience similar joy when we learn the lessons of mortality. Happy Father's Day!