Yes, it is!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jackie Is Now An Official Bike Rider

This is a huge accomplishment for my little girl.  And I am one proud mom. 
Up until last year, Jackie didn't seem too interested in riding on 2 wheels.  She was happy with her bike with training wheels and so was I.  I just wasn't ready to risk her incurring more injuries even though she does wear a bike helmet.  About a year and a half ago, T bought Jackie a Princess bike after she outgrew the toddler bike.  The training wheels on this new bike were set so that she would get the hang of balancing.  Unfortunately, Jackie did not like how the training wheels made her bike lean slightly.  She preferred to use her scooter or the toddler bike.  But, then her little friend across the street learned to ride her own 2 wheel bike.  Jackie was a bit distressed about this and kept complaining that it wasn't fair because A was younger than her and she was already riding on 2 wheels.  T and I took the training wheels off the Princess bike and worked with Jackie to no avail.  Jackie grew frustrated and eventually asked her dad to put the training wheels back on. Then the bike sat in the basement.  We didn't push the issue although I knew that it still bothered her that her younger friend was getting ahead of Jackie in her bike riding skills.  I explained to Jackie that not everyone learns to ride on 2 wheels at the same age.  I also explained to her that it would be a little more difficult for her because of her CP but that I knew she would eventually learn how to ride.  As Fall turned into Winter and bikes went into storage for the season, Jackie didn't say anything more about the issue.
Several weeks ago, Jackie's friend got a new, bigger bike.  We had just arrived home from gymnastics when Jackie noticed A riding her new bike.  Jackie immediately ran inside the house and told her dad to remove the training wheels from her Princess bike.  Jackie said that it just was not fair that A could ride a 2 wheel bike and that she even got a bigger bike.  Jackie often forgets that even though A is a year and a half younger than her, A is also a little bigger (and stronger) than Jackie.  So, of course, A needed a little bigger bike. 
So, T took the training wheels off the bike and brought it up from the basement.  He and I took turns helping Jackie to balance on her bike.  Finally, Jackie got the hang of pedaling while at the same time balancing.  But, she just couldn't seem to get beyond the front half of our yard.  Jackie would occasionally say something about not being able to do it but I constantly reminded her that yes, she could do it.  She just had to concentrate and to remember to work hard on using her weak left side.  Then her determination would set in again.  Finally, Jackie was able to keep her bike upright for the length of our front yard.  We started to measure her progress by the number of houses she could pass. 
Jackie worked hard and she was finally able to almost get past a couple of houses.  Then it was time to go inside for the night.
The next day, Jackie was so excited to practice her bike-riding skills again.  Before the night was over, she was able to ride the length of 3 houses.  The next night carried inclement weather so we had to wait another day for bike riding.  The night after, I went to my Zumba class.  When I arrived back home, Jackie was so proud to announce that she rode her bike past 5 houses before stopping.   For the next couple of days, Jackie continued to practice.
A week ago on Tuesday,  Jackie made a huge leap in her confidence with her riding skills.  I was not at all prepared for it.  I was still wearing my clothes that I had worn to my subbing job that day, including open toe short heel sandals.  I did not think that Jackie would make such a huge leap from just a day before.  Jackie asked me to help her get started and as soon as I let go of her seat, she took off.  Suddenly she was gone around the corner of the street (our house is the 2nd from the corner) so I started to run after her, in my short heel sandals.  Then Ben started running with me and pulling on my shirt.  Needless to say, it was a bit of a struggle to try to catch up with Jackie.  Just as I got a glimpse of Jackie, she disappeared around the next corner down the street over from us.  I tried so hard to catch up with her, calling for her to slow down or stop.  But I just could not keep up (and Jackie apparently was not hearing me), especially with Ben at my heels and with shoes that just are not made for running.   I was so worried that somebody might start to back out of their driveway and not see Jackie.  I just had to say a prayer that Jackie would be safe until I could catch up with her.  Finally, at the very end of the street on the corner, I saw Jackie ditch her bike, stand up, then start to run toward me.  I called out to her to go back and get the bike but she just kept running toward me.  Finally, we caught up to each other and Jackie had the biggest grin on her face.  She did it!  She was so proud as was I.  By this time, T realized that we were all gone and he rode up on my bike and finished taking Jackie around the neighborhood.  Of course, I had to start her off and told her to keep going because Daddy was also riding a bike.  Ben and I trekked back home, me in my very uncomfortable shoes.  The look on Jackie's face was priceless and I really wish I had my phone camera with me.  I totally did not expect Jackie to just take off like that.  She blew me away.
After that, I told Jackie her next step was to start pedaling on her own.  Then she would be an official bike rider.  And once she becomes proficient at riding, we will need to get her a little bit bigger bike.  Even the neighbor noticed that Jackie's legs seemed to be a little leggy for her bike.  Last year, that bike seemed to be just a little too big for Jackie.  But,no longer.  My little girl is growing up and it is bittersweet.. 
For the past few days, Jackie has been working on starting to pedal on her own.  She has the idea but she just could not get the hang of it.  I'm not sure if it's because her weak leg just would not cooperate or if Jackie was not confident enough that she could do it.  But this evening, Jackie and I worked on this and she finally got it.  It takes Jackie a little longer to get started but she has it.  I am one proud mom. 
For those who know about my daughter, this is a huge accomplishment for her.  Her weak left side does cause some balance issues for her and this was the biggest obstacle that she needed to overcome to ride on 2 wheels.  I knew she could do it.  It may not have come quickly for Jackie but she has it now.
So now, Jackie just needs to practice a little more on getting started and become a more proficient bike rider so that she doesn't look like she's getting off-balance sometimes.  Then we will get her a bigger bike.  Jackie is beyond excited about her new skill and I am beyond proud.  In fact, I was nearly brought to tears of joy last week when Jackie just suddenly took off and rode almost half the neighborhood without stopping. And again tonight, when Jackie kept trying and trying to pedal off on her own when she finally got it.  Jackie may have to struggle a little more than the typical little girl her age but I have no doubt that when Jackie puts her mind to something, she will do it.  It might take a little longer but she will do it.  It may not look perfect to others, but she will do it.  She is my little hero because she has come so far in her physical progress since being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. 
I did get Jackie on video this evening but I cannot figure out how to download from my "smart"phone onto this blog.  Such precious memories.

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