Almost 2 years ago I wrote this post about Kayla not riding a bike. It was about where we had been so far in that journey (i.e. never rode a tricycle), my hopes/wishes/dreams for her to ride a bike, and the sadness I felt because she wasn't doing it. Not only was she not doing it, but she wasn't showing any interest in wanting to ride a bike.
For almost 2 yrs her bike (which used to be my sister's, and which I thought would motivate her - "This used to be Aunt Kelly's bike! Don't you want to ride it?") hung in our garage. I had finally backed off (read: gave up) on encouraging her to try riding that bike anymore. It sat unused in the garage, taking up space on the floor. I finally hung it from the hooks in a feeling of defeat.
On that post 2 yrs ago, a blogging friend left a comment with a link to this WeeRide Co-Pilot Bike Trailer. That product sat in my Amazon Wish List for a year and a half. I looked at it every so often and debated whether to finally order it or not. I was hesitant to spend that much money on it because what if she wouldn't get on that either? What a waste of money it would be if it just sat, unused, in our garage as well. If she wasn't motivated to get on a bike what made me think she would get on this?
They (whoever they are) say that having a child with special needs/disabilities makes you a more patient person, but
that's not been the case with me. Honestly, I was frustrated. Frustrated that she didn't try. Frustrated that she didn't want to. Frustrated because I still longed for her to enjoy bike riding. Frustrated because I didn't know the why of it. Frustrated because she would move the pedals back and forth instead of continuously rotating them around in a circle. Frustrated because I didn't know what was causing the block with her riding a bike. I felt like she was fully capable of doing
it, but didn't know where the connection was missing.
Over the past few months she slowly started showing some interest in getting on Lucas's bike. She would pedal in our driveway (but it's slightly sloped so that helped her feel like she was going somewhere), but it was mostly the same story. She would pedal a few rotations and be done. Or she would go back and forth on the pedals going no where. When she did go a little ways in the driveway she wouldn't make any effort to steer and would just go off the side to the grass. Then she was done riding. I would ask if she wanted me to get her bike down and it was still a 'no.' I praised her for any amount of pedaling she did.
When I placed an order through Amazon this past Christmas, I finally placed that bike trailer in my cart and checked out. Joe put it together a few weekends ago. Kayla seemed excited about it, seemed willing to try, and I held my breath. We live on a loop and Joe rode around the loop with her. She giggled pretty much the whole time. They pulled back in the driveway and she immediately said, "Go again!" And they did. I think they even went a 3rd time. I was so happy - at least with this we could finally go the park and take a family bike ride.
When she got off the school bus the next day, the first thing she said was "I want to ride my bike around the block!" She was referring to the bike-trailer bike - and she was so enthusiastic about it - so we did. Then I carefully broached the subject of trying to ride her own bike. (Which had previously been taken down and tried again; and which Lucas was riding because he was too big for his bike.) She actually said yes. She pedaled it in the driveway. She said she wanted to go around the block. I didn't think she was quite ready for that so I told her to try going down to the bus stop. She didn't make it that far. She kept looking down and not steering. She would end up in the grass and have to be re-directed back to the sidewalk.
She started getting on Lucas's old bike more often; then, last Friday she rode her bike down the street to a friend's house. It was the farthest she's ever gone, but it was slow-going. She said she wanted to "go slow" and she went painstakingly slow. I sounded like a broken record, "Keep pedaling, c'mon Kayla, you need to go a little faster than that." We finally made it to their house.
Then, on Sunday, she rode Lucas's old bike - which if it's too small for him now, it's too small for her (but she seems to feel more comfortable on it) all the way around our loop (I think it's about 1/2 a mile). For the most part she was steering pretty well, too. She did it. I couldn't believe she finally rode that bike a meaningful distance.
As I posted on FB when I shared this video, "Yes, she's 9.5 yrs old. Yes, she is too big for the bike. Yes, the bike has training wheels. But, she is riding a bike!" I've waited, what feels like, a long time for this milestone.
And I was reminded of that saying, She'll do it in her own time; she'll do it when she's ready."