Coach Big Guy at his finest
Boots is a living example of "better the devil you know than the devil you don't," which is why he'll opt for comfort and familiarity every time if given the choice.
In the end, though, the cliche that most fit was "all for one, and one for all." It took three people pulling together to teach Boots how to ride without training wheels. The most important person was Big Guy.
It started when Big Guy got a new bike recently, and Boots was giddy as his brother. He'd declared weeks earlier that he was ready for a big-boy bike. But when he climbed on his shiny old 16-incher and saw that it was a long, long way to the ground from the higher perch of his hand-me-down, his confidence began to flag. "Ooooooooooooooooh!" he moaned. "I can't do it!"
"Yes, you can!" cheered W, a neighbor boy who'd been riding along. He's still on training wheels himself, but I suppose Boots' efforts were some sort of moral victory for four-wheeled kids everywhere.
"You can do it," Big Guy agreed. "Just put your booty in the middle of the seat. That's what Momma told me."
Boots tried again, and he did do it. Five pedal strokes ... 10 pedal strokes ... 15 ... Oops. Where did that tree come from?
"You did a lot better that time," W said as Boots threatened to wilt.
"Yes, you did," Big Guy added. "Try to steer straight this time."
He did try, but when that pesky tree jumped at him again it was over for the day. "You can try again tomorrow," W said. "You'll get it soon!"
Boots was out again the next afternoon, but gave up quickly when the tree wouldn't stay put. That was the end of it for two weeks.
"Mom, I took the training wheels off Boots' Thomas bike," Big Guy said that afternoon, referring to the tiny 12-incher Boots has had since he was 3. I wasn't sure which question to ask first: How did you figure out how to do that or did your brother want it that way? I settled on the former.
"I learned it from watching T's dad. He's a mechanic, you know. I fix W's bike all the time when his training wheels are loose or his flag comes off," Big Guy replied. At least that solved the mystery of why my tools were scattered all over the garage even while his dad was deployed.
As for the other mystery, Boots quickly unraveled it. "Mommy, Big Guy tookt the training wheels off my Thomas bike! Wasn't that nice of him! Isn't he the best!"
Wow. "Big Guy" and "best" in the same sentence? Boots must be really jazzed, I thought.
The four of us headed to the bike path again, where Big Guy continued his coaching. "Look down at the Thomas in the middle. That will help you keep straight," he instructed.
Look down? What kind of idiot suggestion is that when trees already are jumping out all over the place, I wondered.
"That's what Mom told me to do when I was learning," Big Guy said. Oops.
"You can do it," W said. "Hold the steering straight."
Booty centered, head down, steering straight, Boots took off, his knees threatening to knock the handle bars. Five pedals ... 10 pedals ... 15 pedals ... OH MY GOD! He's at the end of the bike path!
And that's where he crashed - it seems that holding the steering straight isn't the best advice once you've reached the end of the road.
But this time, he didn't give up. He climbed back on, and soon he was pedaling, steering straight and turning, again and again and again. He looks a little like Yao Ming on a moped, but if it works for him, it works for me.
"I'm so happy Big Guy fixed my bike!" Boots said, rushing to give his brother a hug that Big Guy for once didn't squirm out of. "You're the best brother ever!"
Yes, Boots, some days he is. Enough days, in fact, that I can see the future, and it's lovely.
Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.