Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Mile Long Post About A Milepost

I'm not sure whether you've noticed, but I tend to tell stories like my mother does -- first, I have to give you the "back story" (with accompanying parenthetical digressions such as this one), then I have to bring you up to the point of the current story by providing you with all the marginally relevant asides that will help you truly appreciate the context of the current story once I finally get around to telling it to you because I would hate for you to miss every single nuance. And then I finally get around to telling you the actual current story.

I'm not sure what that style of writing is actually called -- "stream of consciousness" comes to mind -- but when I was an English major back in the day, I always interpreted "stream of consciousness" as "too lazy to edit out the irrelevant boring drivel" and surely that's not me.


Perhaps I should close the comments for this post.

I do know that Flamingo Joe cannot tolerate my style of story telling when I'm verbally telling him, for example, how it came to be that one of my blog posts (Hypnosis and Babies, Part II) was linked from the Enjoy Birth blog over the weekend and created an avalanche of hits on my blog the likes of which this poor blog has never seen. He would zone out as soon as I got to the part about how I was trying to filter the types of ads that appeared on the blog and noticed that something was amiss in the numbers -- because he would realize that if I had to start that far back in the story, there would be no getting to the point for 15 more minutes and that exceeds his attention span for my stories by about 13 minutes. But for the most part, he does appear to tolerate my story telling style when it appears in print and he can peruse it at his leisure. If I had discovered this earlier in our marriage, I could have saved myself a lot of frustration and written up my lengthier narratives in notebooks and left them by the toilet.

But, as usual, I digress.

Over a year ago we decided it was high time Casey learned how to ride his bike, or barring that, stopped screaming like a girl every time we forced him to sit on the bike (yes, the training wheels were still attached). The training wheels obviously weren't helping Casey feel more confident on the bike, so Flamingo Joe went in search of another teaching method. He found an online pamphlet that detailed a foolproof method for teaching your child to ride a bike. The instructions assured us that we would not need to run alongside Casey while trying to keep him upright, shouting encouragement and instruction, only to let go and watch in dismay and horror as he teetered over and slammed his sweet little face into the pavement. The pamphlet described an ingenius plan where the child essentially taught himself from beginning to end of the process -- all the parent had to do was 1) remove the training wheels; 2) lower the bike seat all the way down; 3) remove the pedals; and 4) encourage the child to push himself around until he could glide several feet by pushing himself into motion and then raising his feet.

It was a beautiful plan.

We removed the training wheels and the pedals, lowered the seat, and encouraged Casey to push himself around and try to glide. Casey sat on the bike, pushed himself about three inches at a time for a grand total of 4 minutes and then went inside to play Lego Star Wars on the Playstation.

And . . . a year passed.

A week or so ago Casey was willing to try the bike again at his father's insistence. Flamingo Joe has acclimated Mace to the kiddie tandem bike, so if Casey will learn to ride, we could all ride together. Casey tried gliding around for a while and really was doing a little better than his attempts a year ago. But he stopped after about 10 minutes because he said the seat was giving him a "wedgie." I sat on the bike and quickly realized that the seat that came standard on the bike was not meant for anyone weighing over 100 pounds. Ouch. So we went to Wal-Mart and bought another bike seat (and just in case you're wondering . . . while there is no Dave Ramsey envelope for "bike accessories," there is an envelope for "children" -- but don't actually tell the children they are a line item in our budget or they will insist on having a say in how the money is spent and I will spend more time than I already do answering the question, "When are we ever going to get to go to McDonald's again?").

So on Sunday, Casey was suddenly dying to go to the bike trail with Flamingo Joe, who was getting ready to take Mace out for a long ride on the tandem bike. Casey was not going to make it very far just by pushing and gliding and I knew he would not be able to keep up. So I told Casey that if he would let me finish the quilt block I was working on (no, really, that's what I was doing -- aren't you glad I don't blog about quilting? (yet)), I would go with him to the trail and we could meet up with Joe and Mace when they were on their way back.

At the trail, I had Casey glide down some small hills so he could really balance on the bike. He caught on to that very quickly and pretty soon I was wishing we had put the pedals back on the bike before we came to the trail. Once Casey was balancing himself on the bike and gliding 25 feet or so at a time, he knew he was ready to be really riding. When we met up with Joe and Mace, he started pestering Joe to put the pedals back on his bike, but it was already late in the afternoon and it would be dark after dinner. So we had to wait one more day (during which, Casey told his friends at school that he was going to learn to ride his bike after school -- that's confidence).

Monday afternoon I took Casey and his bike, complete with pedals, back to the trail, where he rode down a hill, put his feet on the pedals and off he went. He was riding his bike. He did not fall down once. I did not run alongside him with my hand on the back of the seat. He rode and rode and rode until it was time to get to swim team practice. Over and over again, he kept saying, "This is fun! This is so much fun!"

When we arrived at the Y for swimming, he hopped out of the car and started looking at himself in the car's side mirror.

I asked him why he was looking at himself and he said, "I just wanted to see what I looked like."

I said, "You mean because you're all proud and self-confident?"

He said, "No, I've never been this happy before and I just wanted to see what I looked like!"

I've forgotten how fun it was the day I learned how to ride my bike -- I don't remember that day at all. I can't remember how old I was. I can't remember who was with me when I learned. I distinctly remember flying over my handlebars and chipping a tooth on the pavement on my way to the Schaibles house one day, but I'm pretty sure I'd been riding my bike for a good while by then.

I feel it necessary to point out that because of my long-winded story telling, my son will remember the day he learned to ride his bike.

And so will Flamingo Joe.

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