Thumper has grown so much this year, that the bike that was a perfect fit for him a little over a year ago:
is now too tiny for him. The other bike that he spent so much time on last summer:
is also too tiny for him. We worked a deal with the neighbors across the street, who have 3 boys, 2 of whom are younger than Thumper, trading our 12" bike that's too small for Thumper for their 16" bike that's too big for their 2 youngest. Perfect! Except that the front inner tube keeps exploding. At first, I thought it was the unbelievable heat that builds up in the garage when it's 108 degrees outside, but why would it apply only to that one tire on that one bike? Then I thought maybe it was a rough edge inside the rim, but I ran my fingers all the way around inside the rim and inside the tire and felt nothing. About a week and a half ago, we shortened the lives of a handful of moms at the sand pit when the front tire of the bike he rode from the parking lot suddenly, dramatically, exploded. Two of them hit the deck like battle-weary veterans, scanning the horizon for the sniper in the grass. After carrying a huge, exhausted 4-year-old, a flat-tired bike, and a bag full of sand toys back to the car, I was absolutely done with that bike, returning it to the owners the same day and heading to the local Goodwill to find Thumper a 16" bike of his own.
So after replacing dramatically blown tubes on that bike 4 times, plus one of his tricycle's tubes, plus one of his balance bike's tubes so that we can pass it down to a friend, plus both the front tire and inner tube on his new bike, I'm done with bicycle tire repair. I've spent more on tires and inner tubes in the last 6 weeks than I have on all of his bikes combined.
But it was all worth it today.
Yesterday, I replaced 2 inner tubes and one tire on his various wheeled conveyances, leaving just 15 or 20 minutes to ride bikes before dinner. He loved his new bike so much that he declared he wanted to ride bikes every day, a desire he hasn't expressed since last summer. This afternoon, we left a little more time for bike riding in the afternoon, enjoying the fact that it's only 95 at the day's peak instead of 108. After riding around for a bit in the dead-end, I asked him if he wanted to ride to the local park, about a mile-and-a-half away. He thought it was a fabulous idea. I warned him it was kind of a long way; he had no doubts. So off we pedaled.
And instead of the inner tube, it was me that burst. With pride. Repeatedly. He pedaled and pedaled. He talked and talked. He reminded me so much of that kid in the triathlon right before Thumper was born that I almost teared up. He looked for cars at each of the street crossings and checked with me to make sure it was OK to cross. He kept right on going all the way, without getting bored or tired. He lit up with pride each time I told him how impressed I was that he was riding so far.
"You didn't know I could ride so far, did you Dad?"
No, my son, I didn't.
By the time we got there, he'd ridden 2.16 miles. Under his own power, without stopping or complaining. After we played for almost an hour, he was even willing to pedal home again, but (of course!) my front tire was flat, so Aerie picked us up on our walk home.
I am stunned by the power of my love and pride for this boy, and how it contrasts daily with my annoyance and guilt.
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