“A Big Boy Now” by Eileen Spinelli

It all starts with the four wheels of the stroller. Then comes the squeaky tricycle and before you know it, your child zooms right past you on a shiny, big-kid two-wheel bike. Riding a bicycle is every child’s dream. But the dream comes with a snag. It’s called training wheels.   At first, children love the idea of having extra support, but things change quickly. What used to be comforting turns into nuisance. Your child can’t wait to get rid of the training wheels. Riding a two-wheeler is what big kids do!  But here comes the dilemma: what about falling?

A  little bunny was getting big. He knew how to get dressed all by himself or  fix his cereal. He helped dad to wash the car. Yet, he still rode a bike with training wheels. He wanted to learn riding on two wheels but what if he fell and cried? Do big boys cry?  According to mommy even daddy cries sometimes and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. The bunny gave it a try. Predictably, he did fall. And predictably, his mommy was there with a band-aid. Scratched knees heal quickly and riding a two-wheeler is so much big-boy fun!

A warm and reassuring story for every child not quite yet ready to give a big-kid bike a try. Whether it is the fear of falling or failing, the little bunny proves that there is nothing to be afraid of. And nothing to be embarrassed, either. Scratching your knee and shedding some tears can happen regardless of age.

Our son said good-bye to his training wheels when he was 3. He was making progress without them, but then we got him a scooter. In comparison, our son found riding a bike  “too hard” and barely looked at it. As a result, the training wheels made a triumphant come-back.

Just like the little bunny, our son is afraid of falling and losing control. As some skating coach said, our main mistake (in skating) is trying to avoid falling, instead of preparing for it. I think it is also valid for biking and beyond. I hope to instill the idea in our son. Not much luck so far, but I am sure that sooner or later, due to his own readiness or peer pressure, he will put on the helmet, hop on the bike and ride it like the wind. Or like a big boy. Until he is 16, that is. Then his love for the four wheels will magically revive and I won’t be able to find my car keys anymore.