Grandma lent Ethan a bicycle that was a size smaller than the John Deere bike he normally rides. It took less force to pedal and felt a bit more stable with its lower center of gravity. This gave Ethan the confidence to ask me to take off the training wheels.
We started on the driveway. I held the back of the bike as Ethan put his feet on the pedals. I took a couple steps with him and let go. Ethan rode ahead about thirty feet, slowed down, and put a foot to the ground.
Next, we tried a longer run. There were no cars on the street, so we started right in the center. I held on to the seat again, this time just long enough for him to get his feet on the pedals and start forward. Straight and steady he went down the middle of the road, past a couple houses. He turned awkwardly to the left as he approached his destination, our mailbox, and came to a less-than-graceful, but acceptable, stop.
On the way back, Ethan had the advantage of a gentle slope, so he tried starting by himself, and it worked. With ease he steered from the road onto the driveway.
This gave Ethan the confidence to call out with excitement, “I want to ride to the bank!” For months he had been asking to ride his bike alongside mine, rather than ride passively behind in the trailer. My response had always been that the training wheels made his bike too slow, and that we could ride alongside when he was good at riding on two wheels.
Ethan believed that time had come, and despite the brevity of his five minutes of logged training time, I concurred. The entire route was slow, low-traffic residential streets. He stayed safely by my side while my bike coupled with the big, yellow trailer with Eliana inside provided a highly visible hedge about him. The only difficulty was down the larger hills. Up was fine, but Ethan was too nervous about braking to slow himself while still maintaining balance. So he walked his bike until he reached bottom then hopped back on to chug up the hill that followed.
The bank teller was impressed. Not only did Ethan get to enjoy riding his bike without training wheels, but before we departed for the ride back home, he also enjoyed a congratulations candy bar.