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We did the big-box bike shopping.
I just wasn’t that impressed. But I didn’t want to spend a wad o cash.
So last week I stopped into our friendly local REI store. There was a 16-inch yellow bike, the Firefly, on sale! Only $100!

That’s still a lot to spend on a bike for a kid who will ride it two or three years. But it was markedly better than the other bikes we’d looked at. The bigger problem was its color. Ella has never remotely liked anything yellow. Pink is OK. Purple is better. Blue is perfect. All blue bikes are boys’ bikes. Like PJs. But I figure it’s worth a shot.

So on Saturday we all trekked to REI so Ella could “try on” the bikes. At the front of the store there was the yellow bike, on sale, next to a pink bike, not on sale. Of course, she went for the pink one; $180!!

I convinced her to try the yellow one. “Which one do you like?”

“I like the pink one.”

“What about this one? Don’t you like the yellow bike?”

“No. I like this one.”

Fortunately, there was a third bike on sale, back in the bike shop. It didn’t have the handle-bar pad so they didn’t have it displayed. It was also pink. I asked how much it was; $135. More than I wanted to spend, but much better than $180. I put Ella on that one and let her ride around the store.

Unlike Toys R Us, REI provided a “test ride” helmet and encouraged kids to ride around the store. I must say, Ella was quite impressive, navigating through aisles and around displays. She just had trouble stopping. She rode out of my sight once and when I caught up with her she was standing beside the bike cracking herself up. She’d run into the store’s front wall and thought it was the funniest thing ever.

Now we had three bike choices. “Ella, don’t you like the yellow bike?”

“No.”

“Do you not like it at all? Or do you not like part of it? Maybe there’s something about it you like?”

“I do not like it at all.”

OK then. No yellow bike. No clearance-item bike.

“So, Ella, how about this (cheaper) bike? It’s pretty cool, huh? And it fits you much better.”

The most expensive ride was a cruiser type with front and back fenders and handle bars spread wide. It looked like it had the biggest frame. It was longer. The other sale bike was more of an off-road bike. Ella sat up straighter and the handle bars were at a more comfortable height.

The lucky break was having this bike at the back of the store. We were able to abandon the high-dollar bike at the front of the store and concentrate on the cheaper one, and we let her ride it around and around and around, as long as she stayed away from the front of the store!

I don’t know if she actually forgot about the first bike she liked most or if she actually liked the other one. Maybe she sense some strain on my wallet and played along. Maybe she didn’t realize that we were only going to buy one. It’s good that she’s turning 3 and still doesn’t possess the necessary faculties to realize when she’s being coerced.

Then the next big decision: let her ride it now or wait until her birthday. Trish was OK with either. “It’s close enough” to her birthday. But I felt strongly that we should wait. Somehow it would be more meaningful for her to be “surprised” with a new bike.

Trish had met us there from her (freakin 2-hour?!) hair appointment, so they left and I bought the off-road model, took it home and put it in a little attic space accessible from our bedroom. We have 16 days for her to find it.

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