another "I'll be damned" moment

It has been maybe two years since the last time I tried to teach Frankenboy how to ride a bicycle.  That time ended, er, poorly, with him tumbling ass-over-tincups off the bike, rolling on his shoulder and scraping a patch of skin from his leg.  A neighbor lady out in her lawn saw the whole thing, and the boy's uncontrolled crying and howling, and thought I was some horrible abuser.

Since then, a neighbor boy has moved in and spends almost every waking hour at our house, goofing off with our two boys.  He rides a bicycle.

Frankenboy thinks he wants to build a gokart or soapbox racer or some such out of discarded bicycle parts.  I tell him it's a lot less work to learn to ride a regular, ordinary bike.  The fear from the memory of his last painful attempt wells up.  "A cart won't fall over."

So I make him a deal.  Learn to ride a plain-vanilla upright bicycle down to the community pool and back, and he can disassemble one of the older 12" bicycles for parts.  A 20" has been sitting in the garage, with cardboard piling up over it.  We get it out and air up the tires, figure out which gears the derailleurs will in fact shift to, and he straps on his safety equipment.

He and neighbor boy disappear.  I go back to working on a stubborn Coleman stove that won't shut off.

A few minutes later, I notice that a few minutes have transpired, no sight of son or neighbor boy.  The neighbors' cars are gone, a good sign the boy is too.  So my son is alone, on a bicycle, or maybe under one, maybe with a severly angulated extremity. Dunno. 

Hmmmmm.  I start walking in the direction of the goal of his heart, his way to getting parts for a cart.  The pool.  I keep walking.  Halfway there.  Did a psycho grab him?  Did some teen roll over him in a Crown Vic? 

Then swinging around the distant corner, there is a figure clad in bicycle helmet and knee pads, and the old combat boots and kneehigh wool socks I had given him earlier this morning (he now wears my boot size, at age 12).  Doggedly pedaling a 20" bike that is too small for him.  Keeping it upright.  Pedaling faster than he should because the derailleurs are stuck in 1st on the front and 3rd on the rear.  A smile from ear to ear. 

I guess then we go shopping tomorrow for a 24".