One of the narratives we've enjoyed about Lauren's personality is that she determines when she's ready, and others' encouragement or discouragement is largely immaterial. This has been the case literally since the day we met her. I'm proud of the way she advocates for herself, even when I find myself on the runner-up side of the negotiations.
I have been encouraging Lauren to take the training wheels off her bike for the last two summers. She would usually say "Not yet," and move on to something else, but at times she was adamant, responding with something along the lines of "I will never ride a bike without training wheels." When we reach this point, I'm usually the one who moves on to something else. It's just not time.
A couple of things were happening last week that led to a pretty surprising development on Lala's birthday. I've made a tradition of riding 10-15 miles with the boys on Father's Day the last few years. To get ready for this year's ride, I had been working on all of our bikes the few days before Lauren's birthday. With an eye toward getting Lala to ride without training wheels, I ordered new handlebar grips and cleaned up the hand-me-down bike that our friends had given her. I expected a protracted negotiation and summer-long project of leaving her training wheels behind.
She saw me working on her new bike last Friday and said "I guess I have to try to ride it today?" in a tone of voice that sounded less than thrilled at the prospect.
"No, you can try later--I'm just getting it ready for you to ride when you're ready," I tried to assure her.
"Well, I guess I could try it just one time. You will help me?"
Entirely unsure of how it would go, I agreed to help. We started in our driveway. My hand was under her seat and I readied my stream of encouraging words while I mentally prepared to administer first aid when she was sure to spill.
Instead, she started to outpace me by the time we reached the street. She made a smooth right turn and headed to the neighbor's. No longer holding on, I yelled for her to remember to brake when she wanted to stop. When she finally stopped, she jumped off as her bike tilted to the side. She smiled at me and yelled "I did it!"
We made a few more laps up and down the block. I helped her get started, but other than that my only job was jogging along behind (have I mentioned that it was almost 90 degrees last Friday?). I was finally the one who had to take a break, and we hatched a plan to surprise Allison when she got home from work.
When Allison got home, I was still in my sweat-soaked shirt. She asked what I had been doing and I told her that I'd tried to get Lauren to ride her 2-wheeler. When she asked how it went, I just said "Very Lala," which is true. Riding over a mile in her first 15 minutes on two wheels is very Lala. She was stable enough that I started shooting video the next day. The clips in the video are chronological, all shot on the first couple of days she had ridden the bike.
The only thing that dampened her spirits was when I told her she wasn't ready for our Father's Day ride. She insisted she was ready--and honestly, she is so good already that she might have been . Instead, when I got home from my ride with the boys, Lauren and I headed out on our own Father's Day trip to a nearby park. I think she'll be ready for next Father's Day, but I'm thankful she'll be the first to let me know.