Uri had been asking to practice biking on three wheels for some time already, but the rains kept frustrating him. So, one late, sunny afternoon, we finally set out to wean him off of his training wheels, even though I knew that the time was not going to be enough, as it was once again the season of early sunsets.
Uri was ecstatic just seeing me prepare the bike tools. “Finally, the training wheels are coming off!” Uri must have thought, the little boy looking as if he was just to ride a brand new bike.
And off he went to try out his now three-wheeler. But after one go, his excitement had suddenly turned into a puzzled frustration. He felt – and looked – awkward, and moved much slower than he normally did.
“I think the three wheels are affecting your balance, and it’s not helping you. We have to take out all your training wheels, and you have to start training for two wheels already,” I told him, as I began dismantling the other training wheel. For tentative Uri, this was bad news, as it was way much more than what he had bargained for.
“I’m scared, I might fall,” the little boy said when he mounted back on his bike, his hands now gripping my arms instead of the handlebar.
“Just try it for a while,” as I guided his hands back to the handlebar. “You have to do this, if you want to bike on two wheels like all of us. Don’t worry, I will hold the bike to help you balance.”
“Don’t let go of me?” he asked in a tensed tone, the quick, darkening backdrop not helping. No assurance for that one, honey, but this I can promise you: “I won’t let you fall,” which I did reply to him.
The wobble of our first run felt more like the wobble of his legs, as I did most of the balancing for him for a whole hundred meters. But, as we sped on at our second try, I felt his hands quickly getting settled, that he was now fighting for his balance by himself. Maybe, he had proven for himself that I was true to my word that I wouldn’t let him fall after all. A third run, which was all we could fit in for the day, and he managed to bike by himself for five seconds.
“Daddy, you did not hold me a little, right?”
“Yes, for about five seconds.”
And running towards his sister, he was shouting the news: “Ate, I biked by myself for five seconds,” which Iva greeted with a “Good job!” hug.
“I did biking for five seconds.” It was Uri’s mantra on the way home, during dinner and up to bedtime. Needless to say, he was already looking forward to the next day, a free day, when he would be able to practice once again.
Indeed, sleep was Uri’s only pause on biking talk that breakfast just breezed by, and we were all back outside ready for the little boy’s practice run. “Okay, Uri, ganbatte (“Do your best.”). In three, two, one…”
A few steps into the first run, Uri was already taking control of the bike that I let go, while still running alongside him, just in case he fumbles. He didn’t stop, and he just kept going and going and going, to everyone’s surprise.
“Can you try that again, and go back to where Mommy and Iva are?” I asked him, joyfully astonished and catching my breath. After his nod and a little push from me, he biked towards the ladies without falling or stopping. What I anticipated would be a long day’s work for Uri’s training had been over in a just one go.
During the course of the day, Uri was also able to start and stop by himself, and later learned to turn the bike without falling. Of course, there were more bike talks that followed, and we realized some family biking records straight: Uri was the fastest to learn; Iva, the youngest at three; Daddy, the oldest; and Mommy, admittedly as the one with the most injuries.
As easy as one, two three. That was how the little boy trimmed his wheels from four, to three, to two.