I jumped up on the queen-sized bed, almost slipping off as the patchwork quilt that covered it began to slide down towards the floor. Grabbing a handful of the colorful fabric I hoisted myself up on top, just enough so my white tennis shoes could still dangle over the edge. I buried my face in the pillows like a dramatic scene out of a movie, and began to sob.
The sunshine came in through the sheer white curtains that just touched the floor. A planter of various prickly cactus plants sat underneath the window. As I turned my face out to catch my breath, I wondered if the two had ever gotten caught together.
I stared at the pastel flower and ribbon patterned wallpaper. It was comforting to know this was the room Mom and Dad stayed in when we visited Grandma and Grandpa’s. But this time I had come to stay a whole week, on my own.
There was a white dresser with glass knob drawer pulls that had a big mirror attached to it. It faced the door so that when you walked in you could see yourself, if you were tall enough. A large metal brush, comb, and handheld mirror set were on top like they were waiting for someone to pick them up. But I didn’t move.
I had left Grandma and Grandpa downstairs. I had run in from outside where I had been trying to ride a bike without training wheels. It hadn’t gone as planned and I was frustrated. I either wanted to keep trying and was told it was time to come in, or I wanted to give up. I can’t quite remember, but either way I ran inside to cry alone.
Grandma or Grandpa, I can’t remember who, eventually came up to talk to me and we decided to give it another try. So I did.
I got back on the blue bike we had found in their garage and gave it another go.
Now the coolest thing about how I learned to ride a bike was how we did it. I say “we,” because my Grandma was a key piece. Across the street from their house, just down the long driveway, was a median of grass in the shape of a circle. It had shrubs and even a few trees. They lived in a cul-de-sac, a “circle” some call it, or dead end of a street. It made for a perfect route to go around over and over again on a bike.
We started with Grandma running behind me, holding on to the white banana seat as I peddled as quickly as I could. She was yelling words of encouragement to me even though I could hear her start to lose her breath. I wobbled forward around that circle repeatedly turning left. I kept passing Grandpa each time who was standing off to the side as to stay out of the way. I tried not to go into the grass and followed the slight dip in the road that marked where the curved curb was.
All of a sudden though, after I saw Grandpa, I saw Grandma too! I looked forward again, still turning left around and around the circle. But then I quickly glanced behind me to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. I saw in fact that she wasn’t pushing me anymore. They were both smiling. I looked right into the lens of Grandpa’s camera as he took this picture.
I couldn’t believe it! I was doing it on my own! I could ride a bike without training wheels!
Oh, as you can see it was dark out by the time I did it. I’ll bet part of the reason I had initially got upset and ran inside was because I hadn’t gotten it down before we had to go inside for dinner time, or something like that. Here’s another one:
Pretty cool Grandpa captured the moment too.
The suitcase I took for my week at Grandma’s
The nostalgic inspiration for tonight’s story is a little suitcase my Grandma Mary Jean bought me when I was a little girl.
I must have been about five when I got it around the same time I learned to ride a bike. My sister’s each got matching suitcases but their’s were a lot bigger and I believe my oldest sister’s was lavender. I remember thinking: how was I going to fit everything in mine? It was so small! Grandma actually got me a bigger one soon afterwards. Here’s some pictures of my suitcase up close:
My backdrop in these pictures just so happens to be a chair I inherited when we were clearing out my Grandparent’s house. Of course it’s yellow! Here’s my post on Why I love the Color Yellow in case you missed it, so you can understand my excitement once again connecting the dots here. This chair was a perfect addition to my second son’s nursery.
I just love the way the metal latch of the suitcase pops in place. Here’s a little video so you can enjoy it too.
With my larger suitcase and Casey the Robot
I found this picture of me outside of their house with my slightly larger suitcase. Looks like I got a new pair of shoes that visit. I know the blue robot cassette player I’m carrying is from my other Grandma I visited that week too. It’s called Casey and it came with a set of tapes and books that you could follow along with. He was made in 1985. A super special gift that was not typical for me to receive without it being a Birthday or Christmas. I actually have this still, and it still works!
Here’s some pictures of Casey:
And a video of Casey:
A dollhouse re-decorating project on the same day:
We did other things that week, but I’m afraid I don’t have a ton of memories about them other than what I can see from some pictures I found from that week. Like, I remember bringing my dollhouse along which Grandma helped me redecorate! But I think I’ll have to save talking about her fascination with miniatures and how she got me excited about it too, for another time.
Here’s a picture of that project. Look, I’m even wearing the same shirt as the biking pictures. What a day that was!
Yes, that’s cool carpet she’s adding, wallpaper and tile floor and steps leading to a little miniature bathroom! Insert: BIG GRIN!
A Milwaukee Zoo trip that same week at Grandma’s
I found these pictures of us at the Milwaukee Zoo from that week too. I snapped this picture of my Grandparents in the parking lot:
Here’s a few more of us on the train and of me riding a few animals:
Maybe I learned more than just how to ride a bike.
I’ve never been much of a quitter or afraid to try new things. My goodness, as you can see I’m riding a camel in one of these pictures! There’s not much keeping me from falling off, but I sure don’t look scared. Maybe I take a break from something for a while if I get frustrated, but I seem to get right back to it.
The day I learned to ride a bike taught me not to give up. To try, and then try again. Seeing how I was building that confidence in myself as a child, and now being able to look back at it as an adult with more insight, is why I love writing these stories. It explains a lot about why I am the way I am.
I’ve never loved having to have help for anything I wanted to do all by myself. But here’s an example of how sometimes just a push in the right direction and some encouragement can help things click in place, like how I learned to ride a bike. I guess there’s more than muscle memory that lasts a lifetime too.
Do you remember how you learned to ride a bike, or do something that took a lot of tries before you got it down? I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below.