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My son has never really felt confident or comfortable riding a bike. He learned the basics at around age 7 after much prodding, cajoling, prompting and pushing on my part. My younger son got on and took off, never looking back, at the age of 4. But for son number one, the balancing, steering, pedaling and wobbling were all together too much for him. He got up there, he wobbled, he had it, he fell, over and and over and over again. With perspiration dripping down my back and my voice hoarse from shouting "you got it! you got it!" until I was blue in the face, he quit, refused to try again, and that was that.
Fast forward five and a half years later to my 12-year-old boy who has never had the wind at his back as he muses on life and the shadows in the trees, cruising at just past jogging speed but way slower than any car. The experience of riding a bike is so unique, so profound and, in my experience, such a part of childhood that for him to have never experienced this weighed heavy as bricks on my heart.
About three weeks ago my husband, in a spontaneous moment of clarity, saw a woman on a large, adult sized tricycle in our town, struck up a conversation with her, rode the trike around at her invitation, and subsequently ordered two of them from our local bike shop; one for himself to support our son, and one for my older, fearful boy.
Just the simple act of telling our son that not only were the trikes already ordered but that one was designated exclusively for him and one exclusively for his stepfather began to build an excitement for the day they would come in my lovely boy that I hadn't seen in, literally, years. This was not the shiny, addict's rush of getting a new video game or electronic. This was genuine, childhood excitement about moving one's body, powering a little vehicle, riding around the neighborhood as his brother has done and he felt he never could, being a boy, being a kid, fitting in, belonging, having freedom. And company in the form of a grown man who loved him.
So the tricycles came yesterday, were built in the shop, we drove to pick them up and my husband and I pedaled them the few miles home.