I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bike Riding 101

"The downside is that I pretty much only have half a penis left."

...so says DS to his beloved Uncle after we went out for his first ever 'learn to ride a 2-wheeler' lesson. Beloved Uncle brought home the amazing machine to DS on a Sunday night. It was exactly the right size, in exactly the right colours (he wanted a red, silver and black bike). DS was nearly chomping at the bit to get riding, so on the Monday I made it home several hours early in order to make good on my promise of lessons. The official promise was that he would be able to ride a 2 wheeler by the end of the summer (although technically summer starts in Australia on Dec 1.)

It was a very bittersweet moment for me, since I had always assumed my Dad would be the one teaching my kids how to ride. The day was filled with loads of "Dad and Me" memories, as I remembered the (traumatic and yet triumphant) day when he taught me to ride a bike. I even remember going with him to buy it - it was a sparkly blue 'big kid' bike we bought at Sears for $99. We brought it home and had to assemble the entire thing - literally it was just a big box full of parts and wheels. So Dad and I put it together and the next day went to Balboa Park, and like most kids, there was a whole lot of "don't let go! don't let go!" and a lot of crying when I inevitably fell on my ass (and my arm, and head, and shoulder, and elbow, and knee.) I got there in the end, of course - as he knew I would.

So it was with some excitement and a hint of sadness that I took DS out for his first lesson. I even used some of the same little tips my Dad had given me, and probably used some of the same phrases to motivate him...and the experience was, in a word, fabulous. DS and I just had a brilliant time out there. To be sure, he got fell over and hurt. A lot. And he cried, and he had a lot of snot running out of his nose, and he and his bike (and me) got pretty muddy. But I wouldn't trade that hour for anything else in the world - because this boy who has only recently returned to me, this boy SHINED.

If I had attempted this a month ago, I am pretty sure I'd have had an angry, frustrated, MAD and extremely uncooperative person on my hands who kicked the bike across the park. Instead, I had someone who was frustrated, and in pain, and tired, and feeling pretty negative and low, who then said, "Come on, Mum, I think I can give it another go." My boy could hardly see from his tears and yet there he was, on that bike and pushing off yet again even though physically and emotionally, he was spent.

When he crashed full pelt into a timber fence, I decided to have mercy on him and head home. On the (slow, painful) walk home, he said, "I don't know, Mum, it's really much harder than it seems. I don't think you'll get me on that thing again." Wisely, I kept my mouth shut.

The following day (a public holiday so all of us were home), it was a gorgeous sunny Melbourne day so as a family we decided to head out to the park. Surprisingly, Boy and his bike were out the door and ready to go LONG before any of us were even dressed yet. He actually persisted at the bike riding attempts for THREE HOURS (and endless crashes) and by the end of it, damn if that kid was not totally able to ride clear across a very large open field, all on his own.

"Boy," I said, "Are you proud of yourself? You DID IT! You rode it all by yourself with NO HELP!" He was crying, and hurting, and really looking for all the world like he'd been through a war, but he conceded, "Slightly. I'm slightly proud of myself." I just smiled about it and continued to whoop whoop about it all in a suitably embarrassing motherly fashion (he would expect no less, and hell if I was going to let this moment slide.) I don't think he knows that a bit later on, through all the sniffling, I heard him mumble to himself quietly, "I DID IT, I rode a bike all by myself."

There are a few more lessons to go - steering in a straight line, for one, and pushing off without leaning on Mum for support, and certainly a lesson or two in stopping without trying to jump off a moving bike - but for the meantime, my son can ride a two-wheeler all on his own for a fairly considerable distance. For my part, I managed to run along side him for as long as he needed me to, holding on, just like my Dad did for me all those years ago. It was a very proud (a bit more than slightly proud) moment for both of us. We did it, and we did it together. I just wish my Dad was here to see it...but secretly, I believe he is watching from somewhere.

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