Thursday, 30 July 2009

Captain Kid Rides Like the Wind

Captain Kid turned five at the end of May. As my regular paleo training partner (I use her as a body weight on some occasions or as 'quarry' in chasing games on others), my teacher (her specialist area is 'parenting') and general motivational force (her passion to learn and desire to explore and develop would shame most motivational speakers and life coaches), we spend a lot of time tackling life's hurdles together.

There are key milestones she has reached such as the ability to stand, walk, run and jump. There are more cerebral skills such as talking, reading and writing. But for me, two of the most abstract and therefore skillful challenges to master are those of swimming and cycling. I know adults who are unable to perform one or other of these.

Today Captain Kid nailed cycling!

Progress had been slow over recent months. She had been learning on a bike that in retrospect was perhaps a bit too big for her. I had removed the stabilisers in the belief that these would 'destroy' any sense of balance she had - or at the very least inhibit progress. I took to running behind her, bent almost double and holding her seat as she wrestled with the handlebars/steering. We got so far using this method but neither my back or thighs could take much more!

A few weeks ago a colleague passed on a smaller bike to me and this gave me the chance to try an alternative approach. I removed the stabilisers and pedals from the bike. I then lowered the seat.

These steps (and particularly the fact that the bike was smaller), enabled CK to 'scooch' herself forwards and explore her own balance point. We made up a game called 'Moon Steps' where she would see how few steps it would take to cover a given distance.

Within an hour she had made more progress than in the past six months and once she achieved speed, was confidently covering several meters with both feet off the ground and correcting her balance as appropriate with the handlebars.

The weather has been awful over the past few days but since the initial practice we managed another few hours of practice (but probably no more than three hours in all).

Today, we reattached the pedals on to the bike and after an hour she was able to make the transition from 'moonstepping' to pedaling. I live on a hill and we then developed our braking skills by rolling down the hill. The gradient also enabled her to practice 'starting off'. She was flying in no time!

After tea we spent a wonderful summer evening down the park with her racing around on the bike. I am thrilled to bits for her. I am not sure she is aware of the scale of this achievement - or the subtleties of how we 'decomposed' the activity to its basic pieces to allow gainful practise. But she does recognise the thrill of danger and the buzz of speed! She has overcome adversity and in that, has taught me a little bit more about application, dedication and perseverance.

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