January 3rd, 2009

I don’t remember exactly what I read, but I stayed up later than I meant to last night surfing the web. The general topics were along the line of virtual reality, GIS, and educational uses of gaming. Ruth fell asleep watching crime dramas while I was surfing away with my headphones on listening to music. When I had finally absorbed my fill for the day I woke her up and we went to bed– where I, of course, read for another 30-45 minutes till sleep overtook me. That’s why today started a bit later than intended– like almost all the days this week have.

Yesterday went almost according to plan. We had a good time at the bookstore and a good supper at Culver’s, but no movie. I’d missed the part at the top of the ‘Five Buck Club’ email I got yesterday saying that the list of movies the club discount was valid for went into effect today (Friday) instead of yesterday (Thursday) so the kids were disappointed when I said “Sorry, no movie tonight. We’ll come back tomorrow.”

The boys weren’t thrilled about it, but Ruth suggested to help them get over it we take them to the Matrix to see if they could find something to spend xmas gift cards on. The one in Edwardsville was a total bust in the toy department so we went ot the one in Wood River where Gideon found an assortment of four whole things for ten dollars– three hot wheels and a Planet Heroes character on clearance, and Isaiah found nothing of interest and decided to save his card.

What’s that? What do I mean by ‘the Matrix’? Why Wal-Mart, of course. Not everybody realizes, but Wal-Mart is actually the Matrix.

One major incident I have been remiss in describing here has been recounted on the Internet elsewhere. Last Monday (12/30/08) Isaiah learned how to ride a bike.

Since the temperature was near 60° F, Ruth’s folks called and suggested we come over to their house to let the boys ride bikes in their driveway. Gideon could also play with the new remote control 4-wheeler he got for his birthday earlier this month.

When we got over there, Isaiah started bugging me to take the training wheels of the bike that was now too little for him and put them on the bike that is just the right size for him (now) that Ruth traded for in a garage sale she and her mother had held in early autumn (when it was just a tiny bit too big for Isaiah). I told him that he was too old to ride a bike with training wheels and that it was time he learned to ride a bike for real. He was a bit leary at first, but was willing to give it a try.

We started out in the driveway, but soon progressed to the street in front of Ruth’s folks’ house which is in a subdivision and has very little traffic. Isaiah would pedal away, slowly learning to balance as I walked beside him, beginning with two hands on the bike and eventually supporting him with a single hand on the cross bar of the hanldebars. Though the traffic was sparse, there was a bit of it and there were several cars parked on the street so I suggested we put his bike in the van and take it to Glazebrook Park which is a nice park (with no good web links) about five minutes from Ruth’s folks’ house.

About forty minutes and one ripped blue jean knee later, Isaiah was riding his bike on his own consistently for long enough to qualify as ‘really riding a bike’. Stopping, turns, etc. were still among the finer points to be mastered at a later date, but he was really riding a bike! I figure (looking at a pdf image of the park with trail distances) we probably traveled close to three quarters of a mile in the process of going back and forth with me supporting, then guiding, then barely touching, and finally following Isaiah as he grasped the knack of balancing.

He’d wiped out several times, cried on a couple of the more painful ones, and put a hole in a pair of jeans he’d gotten for xmas, but he was very happy and proud of himself. He couldn’t have been much more proud of himself than I was of him, either. I still get a bit of a lump in my throat when I think about it.

I had to push him a bit, but only a little bit to get him over the training wheel mindset and get him to start thinking “I’m going to learn to ride a bike today!”. That was a big part of what made me feel so good. Yes, I’d helped him learn to ride a bike and that was tremendous– but also I’d gotten him to decide to do something and to get out of his comfort zone and do it! That also made me feel very good and proud of both of us.

When we got back to Ruth’s folk’s house, Gideon was working on riding the bike Isaiah had wanted me to take the training wheels off of, but the tires were flat. So, after everybody watched Isaiah show off his new skill up and down the block, we took it to the gas station up the road to air them up. Gideon had a good time taking the valve stem caps off, holding them for me, and putting them back on as we aired up not only his bike tires, but the van tires, too since I was surprised to discover FREE air– no quarters required.

Gideon had a good time and was pretty good at riding the training wheel bike on the driveway. I sat and watched him for twenty minutes. Then Elsie came out and figured out how to operate the no-pedal tricycle Gideon had outgrown a few years ago. She had gone backwards on it before, but now she was going forwards, too! It was a day of cyclery for all the kids.

we took Isaiah’s bike home with us so that he could practice some more this week and Tuesday I loaded him and his bike in the van and we drove a few blocks to a large church parking lot where he further developed his skill to the point where he learned how to consistently take off on his own and to turn well, if not sharply. There were no major crashes, though several minor ones, and big smiles on both our faces. When it was about time to leave I suggested a stunt! That was accepted with rough-and-tumble eagerness and Isaiah successfully rode off a four inch curb!

Yesterday Gideon had mentioned that he wanted us to get his bike from Ruth’s folks’ house, too. Today Ruth did and after lunch today I took both of them back to the same parking lot and they both rode around and around for about forty-five minutes. Gideon did a great job of riding around in his training-wheeled bike and Isaiah is quickly getting to be a pro. There were only a couple of non-trivial accidents today.

The first one was when I was looking the other way, fooling with getting my ipod earbuds out of my pocket (I wanted to finish listening to the Security Now podcast episode #176 and the boys were mainly riding around saying things like “woo hoo” and “yee-haw” at wich I could nod and smile without actually having to hear the verbiage) and Isaiah rode smack-dab into me. He didn’t fall off and I was the only one to receive any pain, but it was not too big a deal.

The other one was about three quarters of the way through the day’s riding. I turned to see him on the ground a split second after he fell, but evidently he went down face-first and cracked his noggin. There was a red spot the size of a silver dollar on his forehead and I thought his nose might be a bit scraped. He cried a bit, but got right back on and he and Gideon both nagged me into ten more minutes when time was up. I didn’t mind– they were having a blast, I was enjoying watching them, and it gave me time to finish listening to another podcast while I watched them.

I am very proud of both my sons. Neither of them are perfect, but nobody is. Lately I have been working on telling them more often how proud I am of them and this week it has been easier than ever before. They are great boys and I am very glad they are mine.