I’ll tell you what’s not like riding a bike. Teaching kids to ride a bike, that’s what!
Maybe I’m doing this whole parenting thing wrong, but am I the only parent whose memorable moments haven’t quite lived up to the advertised ‘awwww’?
Take Sonny’s first smile. Definitely wind. It’s the same face he pulls now when sneaking up on his brother before letting one rip.
And Luca’s first word wasn’t ‘Dadda’. Turned out he was retching. Like a cat coughing up a furball; if furballs were made of puréed blueberries.
Looking back, I think his first proper word was ‘Calpol’, although that probably says more about my parenting style than his advanced vocabulary.
Sonny’s first steps ended in mild concussion and Luca’s first full day in school never happened because someone misread the dates on the letter and kept him at home.
But this was going to be different. A first that lived up to its billing. I’d seen the stock photos.
Well groomed father releases his grip on his perfectly coiffured son, who realising he’s no longer being held, pulls a wheelie and rides off into the sunset. Well groomed father then turns to his prim and proper wife in her flouncy gingham dress and bow-tied bob, gives her a high-five, and they all go home happy for some good ol’ fashioned … American Pie?
Well, I’m calling bullshit on stock photos.
Where’s the image of an out of shape, middle-aged dad man-handling his son in the park?
Where’s the image of a seven-year old ploughing head first into a bush because his dad may or may not have been checking his phone?
Of a six-year old throwing his bike down in anger, threatening to NEVER get on one again before storming off to the swings?
None of us left the park with any dignity. None of us left on speaking terms. If I have to find something positive to say, it’s that all three of us resisted the urge to throw a stick in the spokes of the cocky toddler who kept freewheeling past us on his balance bike. One handed.
But as the old adage goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try and find someone who’ll take on the responsibility for you. It worked with their swimming, so off we went to the Manchester Cycle Centre.
And what d’ya know, 45 minutes into their first lesson and something amazing happened. That something being their instructors convened an emergency meeting, looked confused, then probably questioned their life choices.
You see, it wasn’t just my lack of patience and teaching skills that were holding us back. Turns out Sonny and Luca both suffer from a serious case of balance deficiency. And common sense.
When Sonny’s heading towards a hedge and hears ‘LEFT’, he turns right. When Luca’s heading towards a wall and hears ‘BREAKS’, he lets go of the handlebars and covers his eyes.
I think their conversation later that night pretty much summed it up.
Sonny: “What kinda’ fool saw a tricycle and thought, this would be better with two wheels?”
Luca: “A sicko, Sonny. An evil sicko!”
But thankfully what the instructors possess that I never will, is perseverance. They dug deep into their training manuals, devised a plan and put it into action.
By lesson two they’d learnt hedges and walls hurt. By lesson three they’d managed a few metres unaided. By lesson four they were pushing off on their own.
And then yesterday, finally, I got my stock photo moment.
Unkempt father released his grip on his scruffy sons, who realising they weren’t being held, wobbled a bit, then rode off into the
sunset direction of an unsuspecting family enjoying a picnic. Thank God someone taught them to steer.
Unkempt father then turned to his prim and proper wife, who wasn’t wearing gingham nor physically there, what with her having a job n’ all, so instead offered a high-five to a random old lady stood behind him. Old lady recoiled at what in hindsight probably did look a lot like an aggressive lunge from a stranger, and we all went home for some good ol’ fashioned Greggs pasties.
So there you have it, I’ve taught them how to ride their bikes. OK, technically the instructors taught them but who booked the lessons? Fair enough, that was Janet but who paid for them? Ah, Janet again, but who’s writing this post? Oh, that’ll be me. And I’m taking full credit.