June has been getting an awful lot of practice in these days ... biking and swimming practice, that is.
We got June a new bike since her old one was a little small for her, so we figured it was as good a time as any to try moving away from training wheels. We live near a park that has a double basketball court, so I figured that was a great open, paved place where she could learn. I'd jog along side her with her training wheels on, get to the park, take off her training wheels and then we'd begin.
I don't know ... I had seen a lot of movie montages of kids learning how to ride a bike. This just ... didn't turn out like that. Our first morning together was so tough and tiring (for me, mostly). June had basically zero concept of keeping balance and I was running around holding her from two spots on her bike, wheezing and scraping my shins on her pedals every step. After a few minutes, I had June run off to play on the playground while I called in an SOS from a friend. "How do I teach someone balance and also how did you do this, help me, I'm sore and it's only been three minutes?"
She didn't have a ton of suggestions, but there were two things I really took from our conversation: that kids learn a lot from riding a balance bike (one of those little bikes without pedals at all) and that it's good to hold onto the kid's shoulders instead of trying to hold the bike itself. This is easier on the parent from a posture standpoint, and it also encourages the kid to have more autonomy with the bike's balance/steering. We tried a few more times, headed home and gave her a turn on her brother's little balance bike.
I felt a little hopeless, but I have to say, by the end our our third day practicing, June was riding her bike home on her own, with me jogging along beside her in case of emergencies. She still had a hard time starting, stopping and steering perfectly, but it was such an improvement. June loved it and was always asking to keep going out to practice, so we have kept it up. She's now basically entirely on her own (I still get a little nervous about her being able to stop for emergencies) but is otherwise totally independent. She's also picking up speed, making it harder for me to jog alongside her (I like the exercise).
June has also gotten back into swimming lessons. I think it was past time, really, but last summer's lessons were a bit of a flop, so I anxiously signed her up for semi-private lessons twice a week. She's been doing great. She's worked her way up to jumping into the pool and swimming along with her head in the water, but she's still scared of popping her head up to breathe because she feels like she's sinking. She's a gentle, stubborn little creature, and I'm just happy that she eagerly gets back in the pool each time.
We didn't sign Bennett up for lessons because he's only 2, and because these little lessons are pretty expensive for a kid who probably won't retain much from one summer to the next. But he just loves the pool so much (we have friends who have a pool, so he has a bit of experience), so it was hard for me to keep him out of it. I was given permission to have him just sit on the first step of the pool, but then he wanted to go to the second step, then play with all the dive toys, then jump in from the side. So Michael and I have now signed him up for his own lessons, starting Tuesday.
There were a few moments when this one instructor would have some free time, so he'd come over and take Bennett out for a lap or two. He was so sweet to Bennett, and Bennett was just like a fish, happy to be out there, happy to dunk, happy to be thrown up into the water to do a cannonball.
It's going to be a busy, active summer!