A few months ago, spurred on by news of her classmates, Ella told my husband and me that she wanted us to take the stabilisers off her bicycle. It was time for Ella to learn to ride her bicycle like a “big girl”, apparently!
We gave Ella her first bicycle, complete with pink accessories, a bell and stabilisers, on her 2nd birthday. Never mind that she couldn’t reach the pedals, she was thrilled. Eventually Ella’s legs grew and she was able to hit the open road. Thankfully, she never really HIT the open road. We knew that her bicycle, although fine for a 3-4 year old who was learning, would not be ideal for a growing girl with independence coursing through her veins. Thus, this past Christmas, Father Christmas managed to deliver a proper “Big Girl” bicycle.
It took a while for my husband to get the bicycle assembled, but thankfully the English winter weather meant we couldn’t get outside much anyway. When the weather started to improve Ella began to hear her classmates telling tales of riding their bikes WITHOUT stabilisers. Ella was determined to do the same.
Ella certainly had a good understanding of pedalling but we knew the transition to balancing and pedalling would be a bit harder. My husband took her down to our local park to practice on a paved basketball court where any falls would be a little less painful. Thankfully we live on a cul de sac which is the perfect practising circuit for bike riding. After a practise session at the park and her jaw firmly set, Ella was ready to try proper “big girl” riding.
I watched, with trepidation, out of the kitchen window as Mark held the back of Ella’s seat and ran alongside her to keep her balanced. Ella was desperate to do it “on my own” so Mark finally let go (all the while, running alongside her just in case). Do you know what? Our girl just kept on cycling! She was balancing on two wheels on her own at the tender age of 4 (I know some clever clogs did it before then!) and doing so with confidence and pride. She just needed us to let go! How metaphoric for life going forward.
Now Ella, sporting a hot pink helmet and cycling gloves, pedals up and down in front of our house with confidence. She and Mark have even taken to the OPEN road with a ride around our little village. I’m not ready for proper road riding yet even if Ella is, so we’ll stick to our village and the protective paths at parks, for now. I am so proud of my daughter for knowing it was time for a challenge and a change. I’m also proud of us, her parents, for letting her go. Not an easy task, that’s for sure.
Here is a video of Ella on her bike, what a pro!