Sunday, June 26, 2016

The "Not So Great" Way To Teach Your Kid How To Ride a Bike

We have been having the same training wheel battle for months, Kim and I say Senia Mae is big enough to ride without any extra help and she begs to differ... literally begs and whines. I have gotten the tag along bike attached to mine, hoping that riding with me would give her confidence and help her balance. Just when I think it has given her enough boost, I decide it is time to try the old fashioned bike once again.

Today while we were in Grandma's pancake flat driveway, I brought out Senia Mae's 12" toddler bike. At six years old her legs are so tall and lanky that when she sits on the seat her knees practically hit the steering wheel. Standing ten feet away at the other end of the driveway I prompt her.

"Just push with your feet and balance with your legs out," I say as she fidgets with the glittery streamers dangling from the handlebars. "You don't even need to pedal if you're not ready." She juts her lower lip out in a pout, staring at me as if I am asking her to rearrange her underwear drawer. "Come on," I say. "It's no big deal. If you get scared or off balance just put your feet on the ground."

She shoves the bike with her feet, sticks one foot haphazardly on one pedal, and is barely moving before the bike leans to the left and she has to catch her self.

"See? That wasn't so bad. Lets try pedaling a couple of times now."

"Mama, I just can't get it. I keep falling over," she says.

"That's because you are not balancing. You can't do it standing still, the bike has to be moving."

"But I don't know how," she says and gets off the bike, walking towards the garage.

"Here, I'll show you," I said, and this was my fatal error. Not thinking that this was a small 12" toddler bike that sat lower than my knee, I plunked my butt down on the seat and gave the bike a push, letting my legs stretch out as the bike rolled forward. "See, its simple."

"Mama," she says.

"You can do it, too, Senia Mae."

"But Mama..."


"I think you gave the bike a flat tire." I looked down and the back tire was completely flat. When I got the pump out of the garage I couldn't even inflate it because the seal was also broken. I was in such a hurry to teach my daughter how to ride a bike that I didn't even think my 25 years post high school butt might pop the seal on a midget bike. My mistake. Instead of teaching my daughter the right way to ride a bike without training wheels, I had to run out to Walmart, hoping that I wouldn't have to explain that my big butt busted her tire.
By the time I had the tire fixed she had already moved on to something else. Maybe we'll have better luck next time!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Enjoying a Summer of Simple Pleasures

I have this crazy list I keep in my head. It's a list of simple gratifications, things I feel are important to our personal development, things that I want to make sure my daughter experiences during her childhood. I want her to remember summers as more than weeks at a time of watching marathon Scooby Doo videos, realizing that her world, a world of iPads and Netflix, is overloaded with electronic time wasters. She might need to be guided into learning how to appreciate life's quintessential pleasures, activities that are satisfying enough on their own, without demanding additional entertainment.

Thankfully, some activities have already been crossed off my list because they are regular occurrences in our home. These are things like: squeezing out fresh lemons to make lemonade, building a tent in the living room and watching Pee Wee's Big Adventure while lying on our stomachs, and pulling out the Southern Living Book of Cakes and making the prettiest one just because we feel like it.

Two days ago, right as the sun dropped out of the sky and the skyline was nothing but a lingering purple haze, we slowly walked though the front yard and carefully cupped our hands around a few fluttering lightning bugs. We capped a Mason jar with a piece of tin foil pricked with a fork after sprinkling the inside with some of the extra food leftover from her Ladybug Land. Peeking around the corner into her room, I saw the little bugs lighting up the jar as they sat atop of her dresser. She had nodded off while watching her fireflies and her sleeping face had a delicate little smile. This alone made my heart happy.

Others things on the list need to be planned out more diligently, like taking a family road trip cross country and visiting the ghost town that has popped up under Lake Mead, camping in Yellowstone National Park, and the hiking inside the Grand Canyon. Before she goes off to college I want to have this time together because childhood only lasts so many years and the years seem to be passing by so quickly.

As I had a moment of alone time this morning I took the chance to enjoy one of my own personal simple pleasures. Senia Mae had been dropped off at camp, the chickens had been fed and watered, both Kim and my parents were off to work, and I had the whole house to myself. On this quiet Thursday morning there was no activity on our end of the lake: no fishermen, no neighbors, and no random boats flying past our cove causing excessive waves. I decided to indulge myself and take a dip in the water without my suit.

Swirling around in the gentle rippling waves, the warm sun touched places on my body that usually don't see the light of day, I felt that satisfaction, the wonderful feeling of basking in nature as I turned my face to the cloudless blue sky and floated on my back. The cool water rippling over my skin left me feeling refreshed and completely rejuvenated. Life was good. Then I remembered something my daughter had said yesterday.

"My kindergarten teacher said there are electric eels in Lake Lanier!" I snapped out of my moment of bliss trying to erase the thought of a slimy eel sending 600 volts of energy into one of my more sensitive areas. Aarg... for some reason I couldn't erase the image of a long creature rubbing up against my bare, glistening skin in the water. Certainly that information is not true, I think to myself as I quickly wrap my robe around my body. I'm definitely not going to let fear ruin my ultimate moment of Zen but just in case I'll Google it when I get back to the house!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Reason I Work Part Time

Although I know they are only joking, when people give me a hard time about only working three days a week I still second guess my choices. Every time I hear "Oh, you're whole life is a vacation," or "I can hardly keep up with your limited schedule," I stop and wonder if maybe I should go back to practicing full time. Originally I took Tuesdays and Thursdays off to be able to spend more time with Senia Mae while she was still young enough to want to hang out with me. I am aware that in a few years I may not be the companion of choice, so I've wanted to soak up all of the goodness while its still available.

The other day, while still drinking my first cup of coffee, Senia Mae grabbed my hand and drug me over to the dining room table to help assemble her new Scooby Doo Lego kit. "Mommy, look how cool the Mystery Machine is," she said after we had spent an hour assembling the 1960's retro Ford van replica. She rolled the lime green Lego van happily across our re-purposed pine table. It was cool. Both sides on the back opened up exposing their mystery solving equipment. She was so content, playing all by herself with her new toy.

"Hey, you feel like going to the trail and riding our new bike?" I asked. A few weeks ago I picked up a tag along bike to attach to our mountain bike. She loves being able to ride together. "We can take a picnic!"

"Sure... I'll get the snacks," she said as she skipped into the kitchen.

In an hour we were on the Big Creek Trail, riding easily through the shaded water oaks and talking back and forth about the different varieties of trees, the squirrel we saw standing on the boardwalk with a mouthful of acorn pulp, and how much fun we were having, just the two of us. After three miles we parked our bikes in the shade and grabbed some cold water from our bike basket. We sat next to each other on the bench, enjoying each others company in the solitude of the great outdoors. I could have stayed there forever and I think she could have too.

After we pedaled back to the truck I thought about how wonderful our day together had been. As I was loading the bike up onto the tailgate I looked at Senia Mae and said, "You know today really was... " and before I had time to complete my sentence Senia Mae finished it for me.

"Awesome," she said.

"Yes, it was awesome," I said thinking about how we had just spent an entire day enjoying each others company, without T.V., without electronics, and without having to spend money. Any doubt or guilt I had about working part time had suddenly disappeared. She thought spending the day with me was awesome and I could think of no other way I would want to spend my valuable time.