Friday, August 30, 2013

Training Wheel and Freedom Part II

Pete didn't nap.


We've long ago concluded that Pete just needs less sleep than Sam does. Sam, at age five and a half, still consistently naps for at least an hour a day. Pete, two years his junior, fights it hard.

When I am home on the weekends, I put all three of them down for naps at the same time. An hour and a half to two hours will pass in complete and blissful silence until I hear a muffled pounding on the wall...Pete's heels kicking the wall.

The picture of Pete lying awake in bed, fighting sleep, is probably not all that unique and is reminiscent of any three year-old who doesn't want to nap. He writhes in bed, restless energy coursing through his veins, his muscles, and his bones. His body refuses to stop moving for fear it may miss something. The head of his bed and his pillow are next to the vertical blinds in the room. He quietly moves them to the side, so he can see out the window of his room out and gaze onto the parking lot below, and you can just imagine him lying there for hours, watching cars parking. He pulls all the books from the bedside table and, finally, an hour or so later, has contorted himself into a position where his heels are against the wall and he is running, quietly bumping the wall with his feet like Thumper from Disney's Bambie.

Even though Pete doesn't nap (much), he still needs sleep, and by 5:30 or 6:00 in the evening he has devolved into a raving lunatic. An early bedtime usually follows quickly. On the night Sam learned to ride his bike, both Pete and Clementine were asleep by 6:00, and Sam had gone to run an errand with his mom which, unbeknownst to me, also included clandestine plans to stop for ice cream.

Elise and Sam quietly returned home. Sam had evidence of chocolate ice cream at the corners of his mouth and on the tip of his nose like Rudolph.

Evidently, Sam had been telling Elise that he was ready to take the training wheels off his bicycle. This was news to me. Sadly, the last time I had seen Sam on his bike had been several weeks before when he was tottering back and forth on his training wheels and didn't seem at all ready to remove them.

Knowing Pete and Clem were in bed for the night, and Sam, having napped, would be up for at least another hour or two, Elise suggested, "This might be a good time for you to take Sam downstairs to ride his bike."

I was more skeptical than I let on, but agreed nonetheless. If nothing else, this would afford some good father-son QT.

I brought the wrench with me just in case.

Sam and I took his bike to the tennis court.

I held Sam up and got him going. I focussed my concentration on the handlebars, knowing that would be the best place to grab to keep him upright, while Sam focussed his concetration on staying upright through the curves. He rode a couple of times across the tennis court. Just a few feet a first, then a little further, then a little further, then within a few short minutes he was riding in circles around the tennis court. Then, a few minutes after that, after Sam had really only been riding his bike without training wheels for all of a half hour or so, he turned left and rode right out of the tennis court, around the building, and down the path.

The rest, as they say, is history.

He never looked back.

Later, he was beaming with pride. I'd rarely ever seen him so happy with himself. He was excited to show his brother his achievement, but, alas, it would have to wait until the following day.

Pete was still fast asleep, and soon Sam, still grinning from ear to ear, would falls asleep in the bed next to him.

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