E got a new bike yesterday. She was looking awfully cramped on the 14″ bike she had been riding, so I put out a call to my FaceBook friends for a used 20″ bike. This gorgeous pink one had been outgrown by a friend of K’s, and we snapped it up. I’m very excited because it’s got a basket and a chain guard and everything. E’s excited because her new helmet looks like a unicorn.
It’s always a bit awkward when a kid moves up to a bigger bike. They have to adjust their steering to account for the longer frame and suddenly they can’t put both feet flat on the ground unless they slide off the seat. For E, this move up has also introduced her to a brake lever—her last bike had a coaster brake that stops the bike if you pedal backwards.
E and I decided to head down the street to the cul-de-sac to give her some practice time before our next family ride. R volunteered to come with us. I naïvely assumed that R just wanted to ride around (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and was surprised when we got to our destination: she spent the entire time teaching E how to brake, dismount, and turn safely on her new bike.
R seems to have a natural talent for teaching. She knew how to break down each skill into smaller components that she made E practice before trying the whole skill. Her words were gentle and encouraging: “That’s okay, let’s just try it again…” and “You’re doing it!” She hugged E after a fall and rode alongside her, giving pointers all the way.
At one point I beckoned for R to come over to where I was sitting. When she approached me, I hugged her fiercely and said, “I love watching you teach your sister.” She grinned and ran back over to E.
I don’t know whether this skill at teaching is inborn or whether R has picked some things up from the way Mr. December and I teach her. It’s probably a bit of both, although like most things I suspect it’s mostly part of R’s personality. In any case, this is quickly becoming my favourite part of parenting: seeing the kids use their natural talents for good.