Last Saturday morning was glorious. The first (and last) perfect Midwestern morning of the season. 65 degrees. Sunny. Winds were ESE, 12mph. Humidity was 55%, Dew Point was 38 Degrees F, Visibility was 9.0 mi and UV Index was a glorious 1 of 10.
I decided then and there to ruin it by teaching Luca how to ride his bike without training wheels.
Hamann folklore tells how my mother used to eat two Valium and drink a shot of vodka before teaching us how to drive a car. Since it was 8:15am (and we don’t own any Valium) I sat Luca down on the front steps and made a proposal.
“Luca. I am going to try my hardest not to lose my temper this morning. I promise not to yell or lose my patience or tell you you’re doing it wrong. We’re just going to enjoy this nice morning and not make too big a deal out of it. But remember. Riding a bike is tough. It takes a long, long time to learn. Like, months. You may not get the hang of it all summer. And you know what? That’s ok. Also, you WILL get hurt today. I imagine some scraped knees in your future. Maybe a couple bruises. And let’s hope that helmet holds up.”
Luca looked at his bike with just the right amount of dread.
We did that thing where I held onto his bike and ran behind him while he peddled. Luca hated this. He would shout, “Let go! Let go!” and swat at my hand. I would let go and he would wobble and crash.
But occasionally, the world would stop he would ride. I would forget about the mortgage and dumb work and the fact I look like Mr. Burns naked. And I would just watch him ride.
After the third or fourth great ride, I said, “Okay. I think that’s it for today. You did really great.” This was to cover the fact that my heart was pounding erratically from running behind him.
Luca said, “No. I want to learn how to ride for real. Without you pushing me.”
I explained this was the toughest part of bike riding. Pushing off and getting momentum to be able to ride without falling over…
And then he did it. He pushed off on his bike and took off. Just like that he could ride a bike.
I hugged him and said, “That was amazing. I can’t believe you learned so fast. It took, like, the whole summer for Eli to learn how to ride a bike. But don’t make fun of him about that.”
Luca raced to the front door and immediately screamed, “Eli! I just learned how to ride a bike in an hour and it took you the whole summer!”
Eli responded in perfect big brother mode, “Who cares?”
Luca then informed me he needed a new bike. Because this old one was not worthy of his expertise. I agreed wholeheartedly.