Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reliving the first bicycle thrill

A benefit of grandparenting is that grandchildren are an unending source of enjoyment in multiple layers. 

When my husband and I visited with our oldest son’s family recently in Columbus, GA, grandson Nate was eager to demonstrate his new skill of riding his bike sans training wheels. I shared his excitement, and his pride and pleasure conjured up memories of his dad’s determination to learn to ride a bike and of my own childhood biking adventures.

Nate’s sheer joy in the newfound freedom of speed came in second only to the thrill of rocketing down the steep driveway of the Skupien homestead.

Actually, I set a limit on the driveway maneuvers. Knees and other parts of Nate’s anatomy were healing up from earlier encounters with concrete during his extensive “practice” while mastering the bicycle. On my watch he could launch from about one-third of the way up the driveway. This grandmother can take only so much excitement, and I was not eager to be a party to additional skin loss.

My own biking experience started indoors at age six. Ecstatic with a new green and white bike for Christmas, I was diagnosed with mumps before I could even get that bike out the door. I spent the entire Christmas vacation inside, much of it sitting on my new bike in my bedroom. But never, either then or in later years, have I ever come close to granddaughter Charlie in biking fashion.

Three-year-old (almost four) Charlie wanted to join Nate in the bike-riding activity. She was barefoot and dressed in her Cinderella costume and a string of pearls. “No shoes, no ride,” I ruled. She came back out with bejeweled flip flops on. When I explained that she must have shoes with closed toes and backs, she pointed out that such shoes did not go with her costume. I was adamant. “Oh, all right. I’ll change,” she finally relented in a decidedly 13-year-old tone.

She returned with her athletic shoes on and the costume off. But she kept her pearls on and added a chapeau. Charlie is serious about accessorizing.

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