Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday French Class

This semester I'm supervising N.'s French study on Friday mornings. We're still loving Hachette's Les Loustics series.  In early October we took a long weekend trip to Montreal, where I attended a conference and Tim and N. thoroughly explored the city. It was so fun to see N. decode signs and listen to the French chatter all around us. But today's French lesson began with something more mundane but still culturally central: une boule de chocolat chaud pour le petit déjeuner!  N. thought this was très magnifique!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Milestones: Bike Riding

In late September, N. learned to ride a bike!

In the early years, I biked with him in a baby seat on the back of my bike for a long time (much longer than he technically fit in the seat!) and then I attached a trailing bike to mine, and he happily pedaled (or coasted like a dead weight!) behind me on many long rides on our local greenway.  But when he grew out of the trailing bike, his knees knocking the handlebars with every pump of the pedals, he didn't want to learn to ride a bike of his own.

Not wanting to push him into something he didn't feel ready to do, we waited to get him a bike till he said he was interested (maybe there was a chicken-and-egg problem here, but I thought he knew how fun biking could be because we'd done so much together).  Finally when N. was 8 years old, his pediatrician, who has strongly normative ideas about what children should be doing at every age, told us sternly that N. needed to learn to swim and ride a bike, as soon as possible!  We were amused by this directive, but used it to encourage N.  He was too tall for bikes with training wheels at this point, so I bought him a nice, barely used hybrid trail bike with lots of gears and hand brakes, thinking it would last several years as he became a competent rider.

Instead, this fancy bike intimidated N.; he tried it a couple times but was overwhelmed and couldn't get the hang of it.  After a couple initial forays, he refused to try it again. I sold the bike on Craigslist last summer before we went abroad for the semester.

This fall for his 10th birthday N. picked out a simpler cruiser bike (no gears or hand brakes).  He was still reluctant to try it out, but one day I finally convinced him to get on it. I told him I would hold the seat and run behind him.  Which turned out to be a benevolent maternal lie.  He got on the bike and took off on his first try, thinking I was back there, helping him stay balanced.  There he was, riding down the street with me jogging a bit behind, as if he'd always known how!  He couldn't believe it when I told him he was doing it all himself!

I got my bike fixed up (sitting unused in the garage for years while I waited for N. to join me on bike rides, the tires had rotted and the chain rusted through) and we've taken rides together on the greenway, to the farmers' market, around the neighborhood.  On every ride, N. calls out in wonder and disbelief, "Riding a bike is fun!"