Batman came home from his summer pre-school program one day last week and announced that he would like to have the training wheels taken off of his bike.
Actually, it was more along the lines of he demanded to have the training wheels taken off of his bike.
I will never be sure what brought about the request to remove said wheels, but Batman was adamant. He would not listen to my attempts to educate him on the fact that he was too small to ride without training wheels. He was not interested in the fact that I don’t really know a wrench from a hammer.
I put him off for an hour or two, but he was not to be appeased. “Bring your bike in,” I finally said, “and I’ll see if I can figure out how to do it.” Batman brought his bike into the kitchen. It was a pathetic little red metal number that had been cute when I bought it at a garage sale two years ago for $15, but now it just looked sad. A long-banished puppy had chewed the black plastic seat cover off of the bike, and tattered remains of the un-eaten padding stuck out around the edges in tufts of dirty white fluff. The bike had a mostly flat front tire and multitudes of scratches and dings on its body. Despite the bike’s drawbacks, Batman still rode it all around the place, patiently straining his little legs to move the flat tire through gravel, dirt or mud.
I took a look at the bike, and though I’m not mechanically inclined, I immediately saw a major problem. In addition to the cosmetic flaws that littered the small frame, the bike really was a trike. Although it had front and back wheels with “training wheels” on each side of the back tire, the peddles were attached to the front wheel. The bike was not made to be ridden without the training wheels on it.
It was a trike.
I tried to explain this to Batman, knowing in my heart where the conversation would lead. Big crocodile tears rolled down my little boys face. He wailed. He literally collapsed on the ground in despair. He was certain I did not know what I was talking about. He told me that if I wouldn’t take the training wheels off, then he’d get daddy to do it.
When Desperate Hubby got home from work, he was tired. And hot. And Batman immediately started in on him.
If you have never seen Batman in action, let me just assure you there is nothing to rival it. Once he makes his mind up about something, he is like a pit-bull with a bone. He is focused and completely un-distractible. There is no changing his mind.
“Daddy, will you take my training wheels off?” “In a minute buddy.” “Can you do it now?” “Let me get a drink first and sit down for a minute.” “How about if I bring the bike in?” DH sighed and said he’d take a look. A quick examination by Desperate Hubby/Daddy confirmed what I already knew; Batman’s bike could not be ridden without the back wheels on.
My son was inconsolable. He carried on so much that DH sat down with him at the computer to look at bikes in his size that might be available at the local Wal-Mart. He told Batman that he would take him to look at bikes the next day.
The last thing Batman said before he went to sleep was not “Goodnight Mom, I love you,” like usual. Instead it was “Remember Mom, Daddy’s going to take me to get a bike tomorrow.” The first thing Batman said in the morning was not “Good Morning.” It was “Mom! When is daddy going to take me to get my bike?”
When I picked the kids up from summer program the next afternoon, the first words out of Batman’s mouth were…..”Mom! Dad is taking me to get my bike tonight! He promised!”
You get my drift. He is extremely focused.
That night I had a PTSO meeting for Annabelle’s new charter school. DH had forgotten about the meeting, and arrived home with an aching foot and a surly temper. He had not stepped one foot out of the truck when Batman attacked him. “Dad! Dad! Let’s go get my bike!”
DH is a wonderful man, a loving husband, and a generally tolerant father, but on this particular day he just wasn’t in the mood. I reminded him that I needed to leave shortly, and told him I’d take the truck so he could more easily drive the kids in the SUV to Wal-Mart. This alarmed Batman. As DH limped toward the garage door to change his clothes Batman threw himself in front of his daddy and said “But DAD! We can’t take the Durango! Will my bike even fit in the Durango?!!!”
DH snapped. He pointed out something along the lines that Batman didn’t even HAVE a bike yet, and if he kept hounding him he might not ever get one. It wasn’t pretty. Batman’s small face collapsed in despair.
I did the only prudent thing I could think of. I told DH we’d be back shortly, and put the kids in the car. DH protested, saying I’d be late for my meeting. His protests were half-hearted at best. I knew he didn’t really want to get the bike that night, let alone that moment. I also knew that if Batman didn’t get the bike he would probably require professional counseling to make it through the evening. I had the kids’ preservation in mind, and I was pretty sure I had just enough time to pull it off, so I headed out.
The bicycle section at Wal-Mart looked pretty scanty. Annabelle immediately found a pink and purple girl’s bike with a little bag on the front. She climbed on the bike and started riding it around the bike section and in front of the people trying to go by with their carts. Although we were not shopping for a bike for Annabelle, it didn’t seem fair to get one for Batman and not her, so I caved and told her she could get a bike too. Incidentally, that has been pretty much her only ride on the bike so far.
Batman found two bikes he loved. One featured a Spiderman motif, and he was very disappointed when I said that bike was too small. The other bike he liked was actually a little big for him, but he seemed to ride it just fine. I told him he could have the bigger bike, but the training wheels had to stay on. His feet were too far off the ground for him to learn to balance. He was so eager to take a bike home that night that he concurred. We added some knee and elbow pads to the purchase and headed back. The whole process took less than half an hour.
Batman rode the bike outside that night for most of the two hours I was at my meeting. The next morning he was outside at eight o’clock riding again. In his pajamas.
The next evening, we arrived home from swimming lessons to find that Desperate Hubby had come home early and removed the training wheels from both bikes. He can be kind of crabby, but he does love his kids. Surprising them with the newly reconfigured bikes was his way of apologizing for being short-tempered.
Annabelle and I were getting ready to go to the rodeo, and since I had forgotten to tell DH that Batman wasn’t allowed to ride the bike without trainers there was nothing to be done for it. Batman was beside himself with excitement and immediately headed outside to give the bike a try. DH went to monitor him
You can probably predict what happened next. Batman ran into the kitchen about fifteen minutes later, just as I was getting ready to walk out the door. Tears streamed down his chubby red face. He was dusty
“Mom! I can’t do it! I really thought I could do it! I really, really thought I could ride without training wheels. Now I can’t ride AT ALL!!!” he sobbed, his head hanging. He was completely unwound. DH had followed him back in the house and stood there looking hot, thirsty and a little tired.
I knew what was coming next. “Mom. Do you think daddy could put the training wheels back on my bike?” He was obviously afraid to ask the question of DH directly. I didn’t blame him. “Well, buddy, maybe he can do it tomorrow. He looks kind of tired right now.”
I saw DH give a visible sigh. Then he pasted on a pretty fake-looking smile.
And he said “You want the wheels back on buddy? No problem. Let’s go out and you can help me put them back on.”
I do love my husband.
And Batman loves his bike.
He has ridden for hours every day since we bought it. It is probably truly the best $49 I ever spent.
Even better than the pool.