I looked out the window a week ago and saw my just-turned five-year-old barreling down the grassy hill behind our house on the two-wheeler. Her friend was on the other, larger two-wheeler. Once she got down the hill, she put her feet to the pedals and rode.
Thank you, balance bike.
Balance bikes may look like clawless two-wheelers clipped off their pedals, but they wield a “balancing” power like no other. But the idea is this: pedaling is easy; balance is trickier. So if you want your little one to learn the hard part, avoid training wheels in favor of the chance to learn to “balance”.
While training wheels provide tipsy sensations, little tiny tipsy dips, and along with that, fear, balance bikes eliminate all of that in one smooth “glide”. With balance bikes, kids use their legs to propel the bikes along. They start with a little walk and soon enough, glide. And I do mean glide—my girl got quite speedy on hers. There was no ceremony about the transition to pedal. She put her feet on and that was the beginning and end of it!
This morning, she rode the tiny red two-wheeler that was formerly a bike with training wheels for her older brothers all the way to preschool. I think this is the easiest freedom ever won.
Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser is a freelance writer and blogger whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Brain Child Magazine and Salon the Huffington Post, Babble, and Ceramics Monthly. Her essays have appeared in various anthologies including The Maternal is Political and Wait a Minute, I Have to Take Off My Bra. A writer for Preview Massachusetts Magazine, she keeps a personal blog, Standing in the Shadows at the publication’s news site, the Valley Advocate, and a Tumblr Refractions. She is a sometime contributor to Momfilter. Follow her on Twitter–@standshadows or Pinterest.
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