In a matter of weeks my darling daughter has accomplished a couple of pretty big deal, big kid feats, and I’m feeling some serious mom pride about it. It’s almost as if she had the three year old’s version of the forty before forty list and was firmly focused on ticking off a few milestones before the big four. Though she still needs quite a bit of practice with both, Norah can now officially ride a two wheel bike sans training wheels and swim a decent distance unassisted and under water. At this rate she’ll be ruling the world by 10.
Aside from an occasional hop on one belonging to a friend or family member, Norah never rode a bike with training wheels. While we hold no judgment against this method – that’s how I and a million others started our bike riding careers – our personal choice, based on advice from good friends and our own research, was to get her pre-pedal practice on a balance bike. If you’re not familiar with this fancy contraption, just Google it and prepare to be awed. It’s just like a regular bike except, get this, it has no pedals! And no chain! Go ahead, take a minute to freak out. We purchased one for Norah for Christmas when she was about 18 months old which was perhaps (definitely) a wee ambitious as her inseam wasn’t long enough to allow her to straddle it and that sort of (definitely) defeated the purpose. But we put her on it and pushed her around the house anyway, because we won’t let a little thing like being too small defray our plans for getting our kids to be mobile in a million ways as quickly as possible (are we insane?). Over time and with added inches, she learned to ride it herself and we truly believe this was the primary factor in her ability to comfortably pedal a proper bicycle as a three year old. For the better part of her third year here, that pedaling ensued only after we held her shoulders to get her going and was always accompanied by one of us running along side her to wane any wobbles. And then a couple weeks ago, in the church parking lot next door, with some good old fashioned Grandma guidance, she lined up the pedals, pushed forward, and with not a hand on her, rode her bike. I got a video at work and about cried, and then of course insisted she show off for me when I got home. The breaking mechanism remains putting her feet on the ground and letting them drag, but she’ll get the hang of that bit before too long and be racing around with reckless abandon.
On the note of swimming, I give all the credit to Pete. After a few group tot classes and some hemming and hawing about whether or not to sign Norah up for lessons, he decided to take matters into his own hands and throughout the winter took on the challenge of toting two small kids to the indoor pool at least once a week. Once there, he kept a close eye on a floaty cradled Crosby while slowly getting Norah used to each aspect of swimming independence. From simply putting her face in the water to blow bubbles to solo jumps with full submergence and resurfacing, by the time we packed our bags for this summer adventure in Florida, she was at least able to get from one point to another entirely on her own. It did however tend to take a lot of time for she would awkwardly paddle in a somewhat vertical position keeping just her face above the water, but even that seemed an epic leap from the fearful way she would cling to us just nine or ten months ago. Then on day two here, Pete was in the water with all the kids when Norah decided to paddle toward him without warning, and with all the splashing and fray and Pete unaware of her approach, she got stuck in the middle without help and panic struck her face to which I responded by screaming repeatedly “GET NORAH!” Of course Pete got her, and even in that moment she did remarkably well to keep her face afloat, but that awkward vertical treading and anxiety about going under halted her from simply heading to the side which was only a few feet away and I proceeded to firmly (read: bitchily) express to Pete my dissatisfaction. He happily accepted my implied challenge and proceeded to coach her on swimming like the big kids which he amazingly had her accomplishing maybe an hour later. Relieved, impressed, proud, and excited, I gave her all the love and hugs and high fives, and have watched her eagerly swim with her face under water a hundred times more over the past couple days. I still wouldn’t leave her unattended for even a moment, but she has certainly ticked that task off her how to grow up fast list and I can’t imagine what’s coming next.
It’s our last day here and we’re sure to log a little more pool time post nap, maybe even an evening bike ride, and who knows, perhaps she can practice some driving with Uncle John.