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10:51 a.m. - May 25, 2005
I Want To Ride My Bicycle - I Want To Ride My Bike
It was a bright, sunny Sunday afternoon. I had shooed Liz off to Indianapolis so she can get out of the house. It was going to be a Daddy / Katie day with one big, specific goal in mind.

The bike ride.

We had searched for a tricycle or bicycle for a few weeks at garage sales and other locales before going to the local Big Lots store (motto: Lots o’ cheap crap, everywhere!) and finding an inexpensive 16” bicycle with training wheels.

It’s not that we don’t care about quality workmanship, but this is a bike for a three-year old. The half-life of any object that comes in contact with a three year old is akin to the half life of Fermium, and the resulting product will be of no commercial value, like Fermium.

Assembling the bike was no picnic, because the diagram had all kinds of squiggles and arrows that pointed in the general direction of pieces and parts that all looked alike, and then they made different references to the same bolt. Plus, it was a two person job when you had to tighten up the bolts around the handlebars (so they don’t fly all over the place), because you had to hold the bars straight while turning the bolt. Unless you could spontaneously mutate and grow that much needed extra arm out from the middle of your body, you’re going to have to have two people assemble the thing.

So after the bike was assembled, and put on the back porch, we had to pick a day for the big bike ride. This past Sunday seemed to be the perfect day – one parent had errands to run and an agenda to follow and the other was just being a lazy bum. So I decided to un-bum myself and volunteered for bike duty.

Before that, though, I had to supervise lunch. Katie, who normally is a slow eater, decided today that she would want to savor each and every bite of her sandwich and her carrots. And by savor, take at least a minute between bites. She would provide running commentary about anything and everything before taking the next bite. Only by the classic parenting threat / bribery (if you don’t eat those carrots now, you’re not going on the bike ride) did lunch get done before the next presidential election.

(Speaking of that, I’m saying things now that I never, ever thought I would say in my life. It’s amusing yet horrifying at the same time to realize that you are saying the exact same things to your child that your parents did to you, with probably the same result.)

Carrots eaten, and since it was still the same millennium (and still nice and sunny) the bike ride could commence. Putting on her shoes, Katie strode out to the patio, where she wanted to get on the bike right away. I had to explain that I had to carry the bike out to the driveway because we had to go down the back stairs, and you could get hurt by trying to ride bikes down the stairs. Now I don’t watch the X-Games, or any old Evel Knievil jumps, so Katie has no knowledge that you CAN do such a thing. All the best, I suppose. You don’t want to tell the EMT that you let your adorable daughter ride down a staircase on her bicycle. Jailarity would ensue.

Then I had to say that before you get on the bike, you had to wear your helmet. She knows she has to wear a helmet before she rides a bike – in fact, she often tells us that she sees someone NOT wearing a helmet. “That boy’s not wearing a helmet. He could get hurt!” Of course, she says this when she sees someone smoking. “They’re not making a healthy choice!” which always pleases my sister to no end. Liz came up with that language. I just hope Katie can become a bit less stilted as she grows older, otherwise she’s going to be Margaret from Dennis the Menace.

But with the mop of hair on Katie’s head, fitting the helmet was a challenge. I don’t exactly remember what I did, but I think I pushed and pulled and prodded about 4 different straps and dangly things before I got it to fit on her head and under her chin securely.

Now the moment of truth: Katie got on the bike and started to pedal down the driveway. Then I realized that our driveway has a downhill slope right into a busy street. So I had to grab the bike and hold on to stop it. Oops!

I got her to the sidewalk and I said. “Daddy made a mistake.” (Katie, get used to hearing that!) “He should have told you what to do to slow down and stop. You just move the pedals backwards.”

So off she went on the sidewalk with me right behind her. She got the hang of pedaling forward, and then I asked her to stop. She did! So off we went to a playground, Katie riding and me walking right beside her. She pedaled and stopped and pedaled and stopped. However, I had to negotiate her over some curbs and some cracks in the sidewalk.

The playground we went to originally wasn’t so hot – but there was an empty parking lot nearby that was perfect for practicing bike riding. And so we did – pedaling and stopping. Some kids rode by on their bikes very haphazardly, without helmets, one without his hands on the handlebars (Remember when that was the epitome of cool?? Look at me, riding without hands on the handlebars. Chicks, come flock to me! Dudes, step off as I reign supreme!) and of course Katie, in a very loud voice said “He’s not being safe! He could get hurt!”

Katie will star in “The Tattler” coming this fall to Nickelodeon.

After about 10 minutes of this, Katie started to wobble and fell. She wasn’t hurt, didn’t even cry. But she was concerned. It seemed one of the pedals became unscrewed. Ah, Big Lots! However, that was easy to fix and she was back again. After about 10 more minutes, she wanted to go home, so off we went. She pedaling and stopping all the way, me right by her. We ran into about five or six people and she just told them all about her new bike and the kids that weren’t being safe because they weren’t wearing helmets.

Katie will be writing a daily letter to the editor soon.

After we got home, and I pried the helmet off her head, it was time for a snack. I found a banana and gave it to her, with some milk. As I had the refrigerator open, Katie said to me “Daddy, why don’t you have one of your drinks” as she pointed to a bottle of Goose Island India Pale Ale.

A wise choice Katie! She is daddy’s girl!


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