My six-year-old daughter has a pink bicycle with training wheels. She likes to ride with me sometimes, but getting her to practice hasn’t been very successful, so at least for right now let’s just say that the training wheels are necessary.
Yesterday she brought her bike to day camp, where they decorated bikes in preparation for their part in the Fenton 4th of July parade (I will be walking with my daughter, who is currently planning to ride her bike). Hers was, I think, the only one with training wheels, and the other children made a big show of pointing that out. I was there for like two minutes picking her up, and several girls called out to me to show me they didn’t have training wheels. I am told the same thing had happened when she arrived in the morning.
This caused my wife and me some concern for our daughter’s self-esteem. If your childhood was anything like mine, you remember how important it was to get those training wheels off your bike, how proud you were when it happened.
But she showed no signs, at least around me, that she felt embarrassed, or that she was even aware that there was any reason to not want those other wheels on a bike.
Quite the contrary, when she and I ride bikes together, she sometimes notices that my bike doesn’t seem to have enough wheels and urges me to rush back to the bike store and get that fixed.
What’s interesting is that she’s not wrong, if you look from the right perspective. I spend a lot of time working, so I spend almost all my free time with my family (rather than going off by myself). This means that I almost never ride my own bicycle alone, and when I’m riding with my daughter, who often just stops riding in order to look at an interesting flower or cloud, or for no reason at all, I frequently end up having to pause suddenly, and stay in one place. And it’s a pain and an effort to keep myself balanced and still. My daughter doesn’t have any problem sitting still for any length of time. You know what I could really use? Some training wheels.