We got Finnegan a balance bike for Christmas one year ago. Now, a few weeks shy of his fourth birthday, his speed and balance indicate that he’s nearly ready for a pedal bike. He likes to race and be chased while riding and fearlessly wants to go “trail biking”.

We all grew up with training wheels. We grew up dreaming of and then fearing the moment when we had to take off the training wheels. We all felt the fresh terror and freedom of trying to balance on two wheels. I’ll never forget some of my first bike runs on two wheels down the front hill of my childhood home.

Not these kids. Balance bikes are all the rage. I see tiny tikes smaller than him cruising around bike trails. He’ll eventually end up with a pedal bike and as soon as he figures out how to pedal and look forward at the same time his life will be forever altered.

Seeing these milestones pass as a parent of a new generation, full of new rules, new techniques, new science and new technology is so wild. He’s a voice assistant native. He yells into the air to turn on the Christmas lights. He wants to talk to “the robot” (ChatGPT voice chat, which is a scary-good education and entertainment vehicle for an inquisitive toddler). He’s been playing alphabet and spelling games on an iPad since before he could properly talk.

Watching him learn to balance on two wheels while balancing his rapid growth and development is a challenge as a parent, but one that is tremendously exhilarating—just like the freedom of the open road for a nearly four year old (I guess).

Child biking down a path on a kick bike
”Faster, daddy, I’m going to catch you!”

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