March 25, 2009
Even during the winter, the eight-year-old neighbor boy rode his bike up and down the road every day, shoving his front tire right through snowbanks and over ice ruts. We don’t get much traffic here because the road deadends into the railroad track so it’s a pretty safe place for kids to play. Now that the pavement is dry, Ponytail, who just turned five, has been learning to ride a bike.
Yesterday, she asked me to help. So I put on my winter coat – it was still cold despite the sun – and came outside to hold her bike steady as she pedaled along. She said she needed help only to get started. As soon as she got the pedals moving, she’d yell, “Let go!” and she’d go careening off down the road, her ponytail flapping above her pink and black winter coat. Her brother would yell helpful things like, “NO! Don’t turn that way!”
The road has deep ditches on either side, filled with cold water and floating algae, but it’s a wide road and flat. We decided to see if we could go all the way to the end where we’d be able to watch the trains go by. Little Biker Boy circled around us, yelling importantly, while Ponytail rode her bike a few feet at a time. As she gained confidence, she’d go ten feet or maybe fifteen, all by herself, with me shouting encouragement.
The wind died down, and I could feel the sun on my face as I walked. I held Ponytail’s bike steady and then sent her off. “That’s great! You’re doing great! You’re – oh, no!” As I watched, helpless to do anything, Ponytail swerved to the right, peddled madly for several feet, and then went straight down into the ditch, splashing dramatically into the cold water.
As I pulled her, sobbing, from the ditch, her brother came swooping back jealously. “NO FAIR! I want to ride my bike into the ditch!”
Ponytail was soaking wet up to her waist and covered with mud, but her wails turned to a smile when she realized that she’d done something COOL.
Posted by jo(e)