Look at that face in the photo. That toddler most surely means business. The determination and badassery are duly noted — and pretty cute. He is, after all, still so little.
When I was on the hunt last year for balance bikes for my toddlers, I wasn’t thinking about providing my kids with the thrill of the race. And I wasn’t thinking about them racing about like little mini BMX pros — fierce little rocket boys and girls.
But, sometime last spring, when my little ones were gingerly wheeling around our cul-de-sac for their first ride on their new balance bikes, I took some pictures. As one does. It was on Instagram, when I used the #StriderBike hashtag, that I first discovered this little subculture of the world’s smallest and youngest racers.
Naturally, I was amused and a little bit awed. It appeared that parents were dedicating lots of money and time to shaping these little pros, and I couldn’t help but think of all the potential for cuts, bruises and broken bones. I mean, I’m that mom who fears her little ones taking a go at the big slide at the park. I’m that mom who just wants to create a safe environment for my kid, while still allowing them to take chances.
Accidents happen. It’s especially a part of the toddler years as a young child’s gross motor skills develop. They’re probably going to end up in the hospital getting stitches at one time or another and likely endure a broken bone at least once during their childhood years. How many of you have the telltale scar on your chin from where stitches once resided? How many of you had that accident when you were a toddler? Exactly.
So, the thought of putting them in a direct situation where all that potential for harm is directly in my FACE just doesn’t sit well with me. Am I being over-protective? We live in Canada, so it’s not like we’ll be hitting up the competition anytime soon anyway. (Although families do invest from all over the world to take part in the championships.)
I also think about all of the costs involved. I mean, don’t we already have tons to invest in down the road? Isn’t there plenty of opportunity for our kids to compete in sports, at the detriment of our wallets for years to come? Is it necessary to start now, during the toddler years? I guess if you have the money, then have at it. Or if your kid has some skill, apparently you (they) can get sponsored out the wazoo by big brands like Honda, Yamaha and Fox Racing. Seriously. Your 2-year-old kid could be a pro-racer sponsored by Fox and Yamaha.
Then there’s this other part of me who thinks this is a pretty neat idea. I found myself looking up local tracks and local races, thinking that maybe I could ease my toddlers in, if they were interested. Toddlers as young as 2 years old are competing! I began to think that perhaps this sort of sport is a great way for my kids to develop their gross motor skills, learn about competition, have fun and learn a great new skill.
So, I’m torn.
Is this competition something you’re interested in? Strider Sports International has a national racing series known as the STRIDER Championship Series. Tiny Striders from all across the world will be gathering to compete on specially designed tracks across America this spring and summer. (Dates and locations, here). The races are designed to give children 5 and under the chance to ride over new and fun terrain with kids their age. A parent is allowed on the track with each child to assist a child to get through the race.
So, what do you think? Is your curiosity at least peaked? Do you think your toddlers would be into this, or do you think this kind of sport is too young, too fast?
All images via Strider Bikes
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Selena is a crafty, culinary mom. Regular writer here and on Disney Baby. Part-time mischief maker, all-time geek. Elsewhere on the Internets… via her humble beginnings, mastering in general mayhem: le petit rêve