Taking the Training Wheels Off

Sunday was a big day in our household as my son finally learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. This was actually a pretty traumatic experience for my wife and I because teaching a kid to ride a bike is really just an inter-connected web of lies that eventually leads to a child riding on two wheels.

Let me explain.

It often starts with the bike itself — many times a present from Santa, whom we all know is nothing more than our cookie-loving alter ego dressed in red velvet. We convince our children that this fat bearded bastard who lives year round in the arctic with deer and toy-cobbling midgets has been spying on them just in case they’ve been “naughty.” Anyone else feel like Santa’s first vehicle was an unmarked white van with no windows? Feels like it to me.

Let’s just say he’s much better at riding a bike than he is at flexing.

Once they have the bike, the lies continue. They’ll hop on and you tell them not to be afraid because it won’t hurt if they fall. Who the hell are we kidding? It’s going to hurt like a sonofabitch. If falling didn’t hurt, mankind would have never invented all of those catchy cliches about what to do when you fall. There’d just be a simple saying like, “Those who fall….lay there with smiles on their faces eating sandwiches because falling doesn’t hurt at all.”

I want that on a t-shirt.

So they’ll fall 10,000 times and smash their hands/knees/face on the cement and start crying their eyes out while the whole time you’re insisting it doesn’t hurt. Two bones in my leg cracked this morning when I got out of bed. If I tipped over onto the cement while riding a bike I’m pretty sure it would take CPR to get me back up.

And last but not least, the greatest lie of all.

“I won’t let go.”

Of course you’re going to let go. That’s the whole point. Most of the time the kid has a problem riding because they’re scared. And if you can get them to ignore the fear they’ll be just fine. So you get them going, tell them you’re holding on, and then you yank the rug out from under them and hope to hell they don’t roll into the road and get hit by a bus. Yep, your lie could get them hit by a bus. “I won’t let go” has to be one of the worst lies you could tell. But just for fun, here are five more that would be equally bad:

1. Don’t worry, I won’t drop you. 2. I’m on the pill. 3. It’ll grow back eventually. 4. Yes, those berries are perfectly safe to eat 5. I’ve only had 12 drinks. I can land the plane just fine.

Yet despite all these lies, my son started riding his bike just fine. He did awesome. And when I looked at him riding and smiling I realized that sometimes the end does justify the means. Plus, if he thinks I’m lying a lot to him now, just wait until he becomes a teenager.

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