Saturday, April 7, 2012

Boys are Mean, but Mommy's Meaner ~ or ~ Lila Learns to Ride a Bike

This boy?  Mean?  No way, you say.  Not with a sweet face like that. depends on your perspective.  If you're a little sister, this boy can be the meanest person on the planet.

Then if you add this boy to the mix (Leo from next door), and the two boys build a secret hideout into which no little sister may enter...well, you have the makings of one very unhappy Delila.

Now I remember my fort building days well.  David Stonehouse & I built some winners back during our time at Mrs. Pohle's.  Of course, entrance to our forts wasn't determined by gender, it was determined by age; and as the oldest kids in the group, we were completely oblivious to the pain of rejection.  Really.  We had no clue. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Over the last week or so, Jake & Leo have been spending quite a bit of time and having big fun in their front yard fort.  This, of course, means Delila has been having a horrible time.  Last Sunday was no exception.  I had a ton of stuff to do in the house, but I just couldn't bear the sobbing anymore.  So, as an experienced fort builder, I told Lila I'd help her out.

Not bad, if I do say so myself.  We even had a trap - a net rigged up in the trees that we could release by pulling on the red cord you see in the photo.  Delila & I were very satisfied, and felt we needed to christen our fort with popcicles.  But horros or horrors!!  We emerged from the garage to see the boys carrying off pieces of our fort.  This was going too far!  Poor 5 year old Delila was devistated. The 5 year old in me was just plain pissed!  And 5 year Mommy is big and very strong and a little mean and can do a lot of damage to a boy fort in a short period of time.  So, in a short period of time, everybody was pretty upset.  Except the growing audience of neighbors who had come out of their houses with cocktails to witness the spectacle, and too bask in the glow that only comes from having children who've long outgrown such battles.

Duke eventually arrived on the scene and put the kibosh on any and all fort-building.  Talk about a meanie!

Oh well.  Jake & Leo still had each other, but poor Lila didn't have anyone to play with so it was still sad times for her.  She & I took a walk down the street to our friend Sarah's house, but she wasn't home.  Things just kept getting worse and worse.  Then I had a lapse of sanity brilliant idea!!!  Lila should learn to ride her bike on two wheels!!!   Insane Brilliant, I tell you, insane brilliant!!

We've been talking about doing this since last summer.  There's really no reason that Delila couldn't have been on two wheels then, we just haven't taken the time to work with her on it.  Of course, the incentive is pretty low with a kid like her - it's pretty hard to get her to do something she thinks she doesn't want to do.  And she doesn't have the competitive spirit that made Jake's transition to two-wheeling so easy.  Delila put up quite a fight. Running up and down the street, hunched over, grabbing on to the back of her seat -- she knew it would break my back eventually, and she knew she could outlast me.  She figured throwing in a few fits and tantrums would only make me give up sooner.  Too bad she forgot about the whole bigger-stronger-meaner-Mommy thing that the boys had experienced earlier.  Oh!  And smarter!

So, just when Delila thought she'd won the battle of wills, I dragged her inside, poured myself a frosty mug of courage, and consulted the internet for some tips and tricks.  REI has a great Expert Advice section on their website.  In minutes, Lila & I knew exactly what to do.  I'd already taken the training wheels off, but the article I read suggested taking the pedals off too.

With pedals off, Delila started pushing and coasting along on two wheels.  With the seat nice and low, she could put her feet down anytime she started to feel unstable.  This was a huge improvement over the running-up-and-down-the-street-hanging-onto-the-back-of-the-bike thing.  I also greased the proverbial wheels by offering Lila a bribe an incentive.  When she could keep her feet up and coast for the count of 10, she'd get a special prize.

Yeah.  That didn't take long.

Does this Tiara make me look tough?

Unfortunately, my success was short lived.  While Delila liked her tiara, it wasn't what she was anticipating.  What she really wanted was a pair of fancy biking gloves like Mommy's.  Oops!  Totally forgot that  I promised her a pair of those when she got on two wheels.  But being smarter and all, I weaseled out of that by pointing out that she wasn't actually riding on two wheels yet.  She was only coasting.  So, with the promise of bribes to come after a little negotiating, we put the pedals back on and started the push/coast cycle all over again -- this time with the goal of getting our feet up on the pedals during the coasting part. 

She tried fussing a little at first, complaining that she couldn't do it.  But then she remembered the bribe bigger-stronger-meaner Mommy.  On her second attempt, she had her feet on the pedals, and what do you know? Those pedals started going around!  And what do you know?  There she was, riding down the street to the applause of all the spectating neighbors!

So there you have it.  Lila learns to ride a bike.  Oh, and check out those gloves!

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