As Easy as Riding a Bike
*The usual disclaimers apply—this story is continued shortly after Not Fooling Anybody and The Best Present. This is a repost.*
December 30, 1994
"Amanda, I really don't think I can do this."
"You can do this," Amanda insisted. "My Daddy taught me when I was little and you can teach Jenna."
"How?" Lee said. "I mean, what do I know about teaching bike riding? What if she falls because I don't know what I'm doing?"
"Falling is a part of learning."
"Part of learning? Jenna could get hurt."
"That's why she has a helmet. She'll be just fine, Lee—and so will you."
"I don't know," Lee said. "You know maybe we should've gotten that Spacestation after all—a bike's too dangerous for someone her age."
"Plenty of five year olds ride bikes. And besides, she didn't want the Spacestation—you know that."
"Mommy?" Jenna's voice floated downstairs. "I can't find my pink shoes!"
"You have other shoes, sweetheart." Amanda called back.
"I know," Jenna said. "But I'm wearing my pink socks today and I want to match."
"Well did you look under your bed?" Amanda asked.
A few moments of silence—then a reply came. "Thank you."
"Are you sure Jenna's even up to this?" Lee asked. "Just a few days ago she had leg cramps so bad she could hardly walk."
Amanda sighed. "That was the flu—and she's over that."
"Are you sure?" Lee asked. "Her cheeks looked awfully flushed to me this morning."
"Her cheeks were flushed because she was running around the house playing hide and seek with you, remember?"
Lee ran a hand through his hair, took in a deep breath and blew it out. "Well, yeah I know that—it's just—"
"Jenna's been stuck inside for days," Amanda said. "Getting out of the house will do her a world of good."
"I found it, Amanda." Dotty came downstairs, holding the camcorder aloft. "It's all charged and ready to go."
Lee looked at his wife. "You're kidding, right? We're going to record this?"
"The first bike ride is a milestone, Lee." Dotty said. "You have to put these things on tape—we have Philip and Jamie's first bike ride on one of those 8 millimeter home movies somewhere—one of these days I'll dig it out and have it transferred to video. Just let me find a blank tape and we'll be set."
"Thank you, Mother," Amanda said. Dotty disappeared into the family room.
Lee looked at his wife. "Did Joe—"
Amanda shook her head, looking down and away from him as she spoke. "Afraid not—when the boys were little Joe was hardly ever around. I mean, there were Christmas presents and the occasional phone call on their birthdays—but none of that can really make up for time not spent. I had to do most of those things myself."
"Well hey," Lee put a finger under her chin, lifting Amanda's gaze toward his. "You don't have to do that all by yourself—not anymore. I'm here—and like you said, we'll both be fine."
Amanda smiled. "I love you, Mr. Stetson." Their lips met in a kiss.
"I'm ready," Jenna called out as she walked down the stairs. "But I can't figure out how to put the helmet on."
"I'll get that, sweetheart." Breaking the kiss, Amanda knelt beside her daughter, fitting the pink and red helmet onto Jenna's head and fastening the straps securely.
"Why are you wearing your backpack?" Lee asked Jenna.
"It's for him," Jenna held up her Scarecrow doll. "Mr. Scarecrow's going to ride on my bike too."
Lee raised his eyebrows. "Mr. Scarecrow?"
"That's what she's been calling him," Amanda said.
"Can you put him in my backpack?" Jenna handed the doll to Lee. "Make sure he can't fall out."
"Sure, munchkin, just turn around." Lee stuck the doll in so that only the head was sticking out—pulling the zippers up as far as they would go.
"Is he in there okay, Daddy?" Jenna asked.
"Yep," Lee patted the backpack. "He's good."
"I found a tape," Dotty said. "Let's go."
"Ready?" Amanda asked.
Lee nodded and smiled. "I'm ready."