Riding a bike the hard way
I WONDER WHY WE BOTHER
TOP of our parental to-do list these summer holidays has been to teach the kids to ride bikes.
Correction: to teach our oldest and youngest kids to ride bikes – the middle child, who’s six, picked up bike riding after about an hour’s instruction from a friend last year and has been zooming around taunting her stranded siblings.
We’ve left it a bit late with our oldest daughter, who at nine now is both petrified of falling off and quarrelsome with anyone who tries to teach her anything.
As we popped her on to her Christmas bike, she protested: “I just don’t think I’m ready yet.”
To be fair, balance isn’t her strong point. This is a kid who once broke her elbow by tripping over air and falling into a gutter.
Meanwhile, our four-yearold son recently demanded that the training wheels be taken off his bicycle as they were totally not cool.
However, he can’t ride the damn thing without them and ironically fails to see that what’s seriously not cool is being pushed around the playground on your deadly treadly by a huffing and puffing 41-year-old woman.
One thing we’ve learned from this so-far futile exercise is that we are catastrophically out of shape. It is quite taxing to run along, bent double, holding steady
MURPHY’S LORE the back of a bike that is carrying 20kg of panicking child. I bet Cadel Evans’ mum never had to do that.
As an aside, it may be unfashionable to say but I firmly believe that teaching bike riding is a Dad Job, like emptying campervan toilets and removing spiders.
However, despite our concerted dual efforts, it’s not going at all well. As we stood in the park last week, next to two discarded bikes and being cycle-circled by a gloating “look, no hands!” six-year-old, we wondered why we even bothered.
We live in a heavy-traffic urban area, on a crippling hill. The chances of us letting our kids go on to the streets on their bikes any time soon are close to zip. So what’s the point?
Yes, yes: it’s a rite of passage; a life skill.
But I fear bike riding is in danger of joining one of those hand-wringing lists of stuff we did as young kids that seem less possible now, like walking to the shops alone or being allowed to fall out of trees.
Poor old childhood – the wheels are falling off.