Last summer, a few months before his fourth birthday, we bought X a balance bike. He was so excited. His friend from over the road had one and X wanted to be just like him (and the friend was one of two kids we knew who had gone straight from balance bike to getting on a normal pedal bike stabiliser free and peddling off immediately, no hesitation).
Sadly the excitement of the balance bike didn't last. X spent about two minutes on it and, realising he couldn't keep his balance, got disheartened and gave up. We kept encouraging him with it but he wasn't interested, preferring instead to use his Mini Micro scooter which he was already super-fast on. And so the balance bike sat in the conservatory (where we keep X's toys) for over a year, doing little more than getting in the way of accessing other stuff.
S and I still wanted X to have a bike and so we decided this year that, if a balance bike wasn't working, we'd go down the more traditional route of a pedal bike with stabilisers. X seemed OK with this idea although not massively excited. Then about a month ago we happened to be passing our local bike shop and I thought we'd have a quick look. X spotted the Raleigh Striker and it was love at first sight. He was especially taken with the boot-kicking-a-football bell!
We didn't buy the bike that day but came away to think about it and get daddy involved in the decision. This Saturday just gone we finally decided that the time had come if X was going to get use out of a new bike over the summer. Back to the shop we went and my boy's eyes lit up when he saw the Striker. Unfortunately they only had a 12" one in stock which was too small for my almost-five year old. After speaking with a member of staff, they advised us that the 16" version would be most appropriate and give him a bit of grow room too. Order placed and deposit paid, we headed home with a slightly sad little boy who had wanted his new bike there and then.
The wait was only four days. Just before 4pm on Wednesday - just as we were about to bake some flapjacks - we received The Call; the bike was ready for collection. X put his helmet on and off we walked to the shop. The look of joy on his face when they wheeled the bike out for him was wonderful. Payment balance paid and check on seat height done, we were off again. He cycled all the way home (not far - it takes ten minutes to walk) and by the time we got back to our street his confidence was sky high.
A good portion of the rest of the afternoon and early evening was spent riding up and down our cul-de-sac (and testing out that football bell!). We even waited out in the rain for daddy to come home from work so that he could see a proud boy on his first proper big boy bike. And so very proud he was. And so were mummy and daddy. We'll probably have a while to go before those stabilisers come off and that will be a big milestone when it happens. But this feels like one too. My boy gets bigger and stronger and more confident every day. And now he has a shiny blue and yellow bike and he's pleased as punch.