Thursday, April 15, 2010

I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike...

I am bursting right now.  With pride, not chocolate (though the bunny that remains pristine, whole and untouched in Kiddo's Easter basket has been calling to me quite loudly today).  You see, today, for the first time ever, Kiddo did this:

Yep, she rode her bike without the training wheels.

I know you're thinking "What's the big, flippin' deal?  Isn't she almost 7?!  Of course she's riding her bike without training wheels!"  Yes, she will be seven at the end of May.  I know that most kids are riding without their training wheels way earlier than practically-seven-years-old.  But for Kiddo, bike riding came with extra challenges.

Due to her SPD, Kiddo has always had issues with two of her senses in particular.  Which two? The vestibular and proprioceptive senses.  "Whaaaa?" I hear you ask, "Those aren't senses..." But yes, they are.  They have to do with balance, where one's body parts are in relation to each other and in relation to everything around the body, and how much pressure/effort is needed by the muscles to achieve a certain task.  This has always been a problematic area for Kiddo.  When she was younger, before she was diagnosed, we just chalked it up to her being extraordinarily clumsy.  Seriously, not a day would go by without her walking into a doorjamb or table or wall or trip on a stair or curb - something she was paying attention to and looking straight at as she was moving, yet still, KABOOM.  Once she was diagnosed, it was an "a-ha!" moment as we finally had an explanation for the extraordinary levels of clumsiness, and I'm happy to say that in some areas, (like, for example, the walking into doorways) Kiddo has improved greatly with a few years of OT under her belt.

Still, bike riding just wasn't coming to her.  Even with training wheels, she wobbled a lot and often crashed and fell.  Her SPD was really making it difficult and frustrating for her, to the point that she eventually refused to even try to ride her bike.  She preferred "scootering" - on a three-wheeled scooter from which she still has falls and crashes regularly thanks to the same issues that were preventing her from riding a bike - and it seemed like the day would never come that she would master bike riding.  It isn't that Hubby and I haven't tried to get her going without the training wheels, mind you.  We tried every trick suggested by well-meaning friends and relatives whose own, younger children were merrily pedaling rings around Kiddo.  None of them worked for her, because her sensory system was unable to help her brain figure out how to balance on two wheels.  Knowing how frustrated she was broke our hearts.

Here, in our new neighborhood, she has friends from school.  Friends who ride their bikes past our house, who race their bikes up and down the streets, who invite her to join them.  Motivation anew for her, but still, she was nervous and hesitant to try.  Hubby did some research on the internet (actually, he was looking for a different program that Kiddo's PT and OT had mentioned in passing when I asked them for suggestions on how to help Kiddo master a two-wheeler) and found a system that seemed worth a try, so he decided to give it a go.  He had Kiddo watch the explanatory video yesterday and she was super-excited to try this method out with Daddy after school today.

This system is called Pedal Magic and all I can say is that within 10 minutes of Hubby and Kiddo starting to use the system in the parking lot up the road, she was doing this:

I was at home, busily stripping wallpaper, when the phone rang.  It was Kiddo, giddy and breathless with excitement, asking me to come up to the parking lot and watch.  So I did, and I'm telling you, I could've started crying, I was so happy.  Sometimes it's the little things, you know.  When we got home, she was bubbling over and couldn't wait to call her grandparents to share the news.  She was busily planning outings on her bike with friends as I tucked her into bed tonight.

Of course, she's going to need more practice at things like turning and stopping, but just the fact that she can maintain her balance on a bicycle unaided?  That's huge.

Now I just wish the Bike Fairy would come and leave Hubby and me each a bike in our garage so we could go on family bike rides this summer.  Sadly, every last cent of income that is above and beyond normal living expenses is slotted towards the neverending home renovations, so there will be no bikes for us this summer unless I can find a great deal on Craigslist or at a garage sale.  I've been keeping my eyes peeled...  You see, when I was a kid, we would go on family bike rides all the time in the good weather months.  We'd spend entire afternoons riding our bikes, exploring our neighborhood or some other scenic spot.  I have such fond memories of those outings, which started when we were too young to ride our own bikes.  Dad built a "bicycle seat for two" child carrier for the back of his bike (I recall plywood and shag carpet remnants being primary components) so my sister and I could sit side-by-side on his bike, while our youngest sister rode in a more standard child carrier on Mom's bike.  Eventually, we were all biking under our own steam, and we'd ride for miles, us kids zooming off ahead, then waiting for Mom and Dad to catch up.  Good times, very good times.  Now, the idea of doing that with Kiddo is so much closer to being a reality, despite the stumbling blocks her SPD threw in front of her bike tires.  And this is why I am bragging about my kid riding without her training wheels.  I hope you will indulge this proud mama!  Yay, Kiddo!!!


RMF said...

Yay, Kiddo! As for bikes for you and C, why not put a request on I don't know how many freecyclers there are in your area, but there are plenty of people with old bikes in their garages who might be willing to place them in a new, loving home.

Or...Hopper is riding my dad's bike, which used to be my brother's bike--what ever happened to those bikes of your parents'? Maybe they are sitting in the garage and could be strapped to the back of the car this weekend and re-homed.

But be advised--it takes a while to get to the "family bike riding" stage. We are working with our Kid, and there is quite a bit of whining as she gets the hang of riding outside of our local park. This morning she declared that she wasn't riding up hills anymore, only down. Good luck with that one, Kid! :-)


KiKi said...

Awwww!!! That's awesome!!! She looks so cute--I remember that feeling so well. And the look on your husband's face is priceless as well. Thanks for sharing!

PS -- I can't keep my hands out of the easter candy, oy vey!

Ash said...

I've got tears for you. Such a HUGE moment. A pure skill that they have to master, absolutely no one can do it for them. It must feel so good to them.

Your father's "bicycle seat for two" cracks me up. And no helmets I'm betting. How did we all survive?!

Givinya De Elba said...

Oh that is wonderful! Well done!

Andy said...

Way to go Kiddo!!!!

Creative Junkie said...


Super excited for you, sweetie!

Crafty and Classy said...

How cute! Way to go!!!

Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points said...

Just read your test answers on the "Win a BlogHer 2010" giveaway and cracked up.

Had to tell you.

Lora said...

That rocks! So happy for your kiddo, she's on to a new adventure. I found your blog today--my 6 year old son also has SPD. He has hypotonia and his biggest issues are with the proprioceptive and vestibular senses. He cannot ride a bike without training wheels yet, but I'm off to read about pedal magic!

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