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MOTHERHOOD: WORRY ON WHEELS

It is nearing time to remove the training wheels from our daughter's bicycle, and I have decided I simply cannot watch.

I am willing to teach her to dive into the deep end when the time comes and to one day use sharp kitchen utensils, but for now I have decided I cannot be part of this particular milestone for one reason: I do not want to see what will inevitably happen to those perfect knees.

I have a scar on my knee. It dates back to when I was 7 or 8. Like most kids, I loved riding my bike up and down our street, but one day -- as I was traveling at a pretty good clip down the bumpy sidewalk -- my tire must have skidded on a stone because I flew off my bike and slid across a gravel driveway -- looking, no doubt, like a baseball player diving into third.

My next recollection is sitting on an examining table with a doctor taking a brush to my bloody knee to remove the gravely bits. I can't tell you what happened next because I have erased it from my memory. Either that or I passed out during the de-graveling and did not regain consciousness until I was 11 or so.

No, I cannot watch.

Not that the driveway incident took away my love of bike riding. Like any resilient kid, I continued to ride -- and continued to take spills throughout my childhood.

I still fall off my bike. Just ask my husband.

Still, I cannot watch.

The good news is that I know our daughter has no plans to permanently remove the training wheels of her bike until she is good and ready. She has had several practice sessions without them -- I was not there (surprised?) -- but the time is not right.

Nor does she care that some of her friends already have their training wheels off.

Neither do I. I know our daughter, and when she is ready, she will strap on her pink helmet, place her hands firmly on her hips and announce in no uncertain terms that it is time.

Yes, I am a mother who worries but I am hardly the Mother of All Worriers. I know that spills, tumbles and falls are part of being a child. She certainly has had her share of bumps and bruises -- including skinned knees -- and we have gone through our share of Barbie and Scooby Doo bandages.

A couple years ago, she bumped her mouth on the guard rail of her bed while jumping around like kids do and eventually had to have a damaged baby tooth "wiggled out" by the dentist.

I handled it very well. It did not involve a bike and a gravel driveway.

I also know that a banged-up knee is only one bad thing that can happen to a child riding a bicycle. So of course I'm concerned -- and I am not alone.

"At each stage of your child's development, a whole new world of worry opens up -- just in case you were getting bored with the same-old same-old," reads an article in the May issue of Parenting magazine.

I understand this: Today, it is two wheels I am worried about. Ten years from now, it will be four.

We have been fortunate in that our daughter seems to have an innate sense of what is safe. She was never one to pop small objects in her mouth. She was never one to unbuckle her seat belt while I was driving.

And, unlike her same-age cousin, she has never fallen off a booster chair and landed on the side of her head, scaring the nearby adults half to death because her eyes appeared to be stuck in one direction (911 was called. The girl was fine, the adults a wreck).

I have no doubt our daughter will be able to handle the transition from training wheels to two wheels when the time comes. It is me I am worried about, but I will keep that to myself.

That's what mothers do.
e-mail: smartin@buffnews.com