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Friday, August 12, 2011

Celebrating Losing The Training Wheels

Let's face it: if this week was simply about bike riding, couldn't we have all payed a teen minimum wage to run up and down a parking lot with our kids until the job was done?

Well, first of all, given the ability issues we are all living with, is that really the safest method? Do we really understand all that is happening motorically with our kids? And, furthermore, if the task could be accomplished by just us, the parents, don't you think we would have done it by now???

Bikes? This program means so much more than bikes!

Driving home yesterday after our older son had lost his training wheels, I glanced into the back seat to check on him--he's an ornery fellow requiring due diligence. Lol. And, the look I saw on his face? Quiet pride.

This, from a child who lacks outward expressions of various emotions. He can smile and laugh. And, he can cry. Most of the time, his face is flat. He simply hasn't learned facial expressions, and, really, he faces so much on a daily basis--medically, physically, developmentally and sensorily that I've not been too certain how developed his emotions were.

But, yesterday, I saw pride. Quietly, almost internally, and I wondered what he was thinking about. Which moment of the afternoon had brought that feeling?

Today, we placed his bike in the back of the van to take to the last day of LTTW. I bought the boys bikes last year after our older son gave a promising performance in the program. Those bikes, unfortunately, did not see much use. I didn't have what it took to keep it going for our older son, and, our younger son acted like he didn't want to ride, when, in reality, he was too scared to ride.

I dusted off that bike and put it in the van. And, when we opened the back hatch in order to remove it for today's session, our son dove right in and wanted to help. He would not remove his hands from it. He exercised ownership from the first moment he saw it until it hit the facility.

He was a bike rider, and he was saying to us that this was HIS bike. Such typical behavior. So touching. Such a gift.

Unfortunately, we discovered that he didn't like the handlebars on that bike--they were too low, much like a mountain bike. We'll have to make some adjustments to his bike ASAP! So, he spent most of the time on one of the LTTW's bikes, and today...

...both of the boys got to ride outside!

It's the final step for us. Victory. It was the celebration that the kids had done it! Their volunteers had done it! The program, on so many levels, was a success! And, it was in that scene that I noticed, I was without a child glued to my side!

I'm beat. I'm tired. I'm fried and worn down. I've been homeschooling a kid that talks non-stop about things that bug the living daylights out of me, and I've been up all night with a screaming child in turmoil. It's been the better part of a year. I'm on duty ALL FREAKING TIME.

But, now? My kids were with their volunteers. When they succeeded, yes, they looked to us for affirmation, but they also looked to their volunteers--the people who had worked with them all week.

Our older son, the wanderer, grabbed the hands of his volunteers. Hahahaha! And the volunteers went with him. lolololol! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Yes, I'm thankful for the reprieve. All moms in my shoes can laugh at that. But, also, I'm happy for my children. I'm happy that they receive affirmation from outside sources. Moms and Dads are great, but, in the end, support from outsiders is a real ego-booster.

Our older son was almost always holding hands with one of his two volunteers.

The kids all took one final lap, and were then presented with trophies, something our younger son feels that only true athletes receive--people that are cool.

People that aren't him.

However, today, he received a trophy. He said that he finally had his first trophy, and, yes, I actually saw him kiss it. But, he'll never own up to that.

How do you top a week like this? How do you thank the people involved with giving your children so much more than the ability to ride a bike? It's about support. It's about acceptance. It's about perseverance and reaping the rewards. It's about helping an exceptional group of kids to stand a little taller and on more solid ground.

If treated properly, it can be a springboard for the future.

It's a gift.

Thank you all for the gifts you have given our family this week. And thank you UNYFEAT for sponsoring this event!


  1. I'm just thrilled for your family this week!

  2. Almost makes the rest of the summer worth the effort!!!

  3. He clearly learned how to beam with pride from his mother! :) I'm glad you had such a wonderful week.

  4. Hi Amy, my son Jake was one of the volunteers that worked with your son Trey. Every night he would come home and tell me how Trey was getting better. He felt such accompolishment himself when Trey was able to Lose the training wheels. This week truly made a difference in my son and he enjoyed working with Trey. I love the pictures and Jake would love to keep in touch with Trey, if you are ok with that. I'm glad that Trey and Will did so well, and as you thank the volunteers, I thank the families in trusting my son to help yours.
    Mary Kay Whiteford

  5. Oh God, I'm just welling up here, especially at Mary Kay's comment there. What a fantastic week for your family and what a wonderful experience for those of us reading to share. Thank you so much and thank goodness for those running this scheme, sponsoring it and working for it. Just the best thing. xxx

  6. Thanks to all of you who have shared this week with my family. My friend Beth (Word Nerd in the above responses) gave me a tutorial in posting buttons and links to this blog. Thx Beth! I have one for LTTW and will also put one here for UNYFEAT, the organization responsible for bringing it to our area.

    Mary Kay, thank you for contacting me. You should be very proud of Jake. Our older son is a tough customer, but Jake not only hung in there but he stepped up to the plate without batting an eyelash.I can't say that about all of the professionals who have worked with our son. I'll be sure to get my contact onfo exchanged with you.

    I'm sure my husband and father-in-law are really missing Jake right about now-we fixed our son's bike this morning, exchanging his handlebars for some nice wide ones, and now daddy and grandpa are taking a stab at running beside him. Lol!

  7. Amy- So glad we got to meet your guys (my son Bergen was in the same session asa your sons). I enjoyed seeing all the kids' success and progress throughout the week and also thought the volunteers were amazing. My kids told their dad every night how each kid was doing and of course about the vacuum collection (which they though neat, not weird). My son was also proud of his accomplishment. At the beginning of the week we was unsure if he would be able to ride his bike, but by this weekend, he told me that last week was the best week of the summer. So worth the money and the driving. Good luck with the biking!

  8. Juliann, I think last week was MY favorite week of the summer as well! I'm really proud of all the kids. Last year we did the program with our older son but couldn't transfer the skill from the program to the real world. So we're working on that now. My legs are sore! I miss our volunteers!! :) Hope you are doing better in that department than I am!