On a bicycle built for a clown

So my son is turning 6 this weekend and the most obvious thing to get him for his birthday is a new bike. Why a new bike you ask? Well maybe because the one he is riding now looks more like a clown bike. I don’t mean in relative size to an adult now, but to a 5 and three quarter year old. Yes I have been remise in the duties of teaching my son to ride a bike.

Let me back up for a minute. We started pretty ok with the bike thing a few years ago, but didn’t really follow through so well. My wife and  I live in an apartment in the heart of the city and there really is no yard to ride in and the parking lot that surrounds our tower block we live in is not a great place to learn to ride a bike. Unless you are training your child for some early developmental courier defensive cycling skills. So we took him to the park a few times when he was four and to be honest for the most part he wasn’t digging the bike thing. Even with training wheels he moaned and showed a fair bit of ‘meh’ to the whole riding a bike thing. So we gave it a few more goes and then we took off for a two month trip to a land were learning to ride a bike was not really gonna happen. Fast forward to our return and it was September and time for kindergarden so we were all pretty distracted and the less than shiny bike sat neglected for another winter.

Now it’s spring of 09′ and my son is five and a half years old and still does not know how to ride a bike. Oops, bad dad. You know it was winter and I started a new business and he was all busy and stuff with kindergarden right? It could happen to anyone, ya sure that’s it. Well anyway I figured that spring was here and I would get busy with the bike lessons soon enough. Well that glorious day happened in June, early June so technically still spring. We decided to go riding on the Stanley Park sea wall with a couple of friends. Noah actually seemed excited at the thought of getting on the bike and giving it one more go. So off we went down the street and about half way to our destination the little plastic peddle fell off. “OOOOOOOK, this sucks for sure.” I thought. So I picked up the peddless clown bike with a promise that an easy dad repair was in our immediate future.

When we arrived I explained that I needed to borrow some tools and fix the orphaned peddle. I started in on the peddle and noticed that the tire was now flat. Yay for cheap bikes! So now the task was to fix the inner tube on a 12′ diameter wheel. It’s hard enough on a big boy big like mine to fix a flat tire let alone this wheel that wasn’t much bigger that a Tim Hortons Cruller. So I started in on the repair and within what seemed to be 1.5 seconds of inserting the flat head screw driver had ripped through the the thin inner tube wall! SPPPPPShhhhhhhhhhh…. When the tiny gasp of air that was left. I looked up and said “How about a scooter ride!”

Well months later the poor little bike still sat neglected by our front door. It nagged at me silently to be fixed every time I would pass by. So finally on my way to work one morning I looked down at the sad little bike and decided that I would have it fixed at the bike shop in the morning. I would get this boy up and on two wheels before the summer was through i promised myself. I spoke not a word of my fatherly plan and trundled off to work. That afternoon my wife called me and said “Guess what?” I had no idea what to guess and asked “What babe?” with a giggle in her tone she proceeded to tell me the story of her and Noah’s day.

It began with her serendipitously deciding to fix the bike as well. I guess the silence of the little bike was guilting both of us equally. In fact she felt the need so pressing that she had the bike fixed that very morning. Not the next day as I had aimed for, but right that instant. Mixed feelings were running through my head as I was not going to be able to fulfil on my self proclaimed fatherly deed for the weekend. She told me that the bike was fixed and she had the bike shop remove the training wheels as well. She also said that he was pushing the bike from behind here when though the quiet of the park she heard “Mama, Mama!” louder with each yelp. As she turned he rolled right by her without a wobble or a waver. He just knew how to do it.

Moral of the story? I am not sure there is one but I will take away the thought that maybe we push our kids too hard to do things like riding a bike at 3 and 4 years of age and they will let you know when they are ready. We did not have to endure that terror of pushing the kid on the bike and lying about the fact that you are still holding on where you actually not. Yes we were able to skip one of the very first questions of trust that happens between a child and his or her parents.

So now it is with great pleasure that my wife and I will take him out on his 6th birthday and buy a new bike that will be big, shiny and now well used.

Noah rides a bike [Video]

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5 Comments

  1. Mike September 30, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Same spot here JP. I neglected my fatherly duty with the bike as well and lived in an apartment complex with no safe place to teach my son. He is six now, has a new bike, we moved and next door is a mostly empty parking lot! However he was also given a pair of roller blades for his birthday and he seems more interested in them! Trumped by roller blades!

  2. Rod October 8, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Our six year old twin boys had the same type of bikes as you mentioned above, but they always loved them because they allowed them to go faster than their mother had in mind.rnrnAbout a year ago we decided to take the training wheels off, so did just that and they took all of about 10 minutes of riding in the front yard (because grass hurts a lot less than concrete, obviously) before they got it. Then it was out to the dykes in Pitt Meadows where after a couple of good crashes, they just took off and neither one looked back.rnrnNow they want to start BMX racing next spring. Oh, their mother hasn’t seen anything yet… 🙂

  3. Rod October 8, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Our six year old twin boys had the same type of bikes as you mentioned above, but they always loved them because they allowed them to go faster than their mother had in mind.rnrnAbout a year ago we decided to take the training wheels off, so did just that and they took all of about 10 minutes of riding in the front yard (because grass hurts a lot less than concrete, obviously) before they got it. Then it was out to the dykes in Pitt Meadows where after a couple of good crashes, they just took off and neither one looked back.rnrnNow they want to start BMX racing next spring. Oh, their mother hasn’t seen anything yet… 🙂

  4. Rod October 8, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Our six year old twin boys had the same type of bikes as you mentioned above, but they always loved them because they allowed them to go faster than their mother had in mind.rnrnAbout a year ago we decided to take the training wheels off, so did just that and they took all of about 10 minutes of riding in the front yard (because grass hurts a lot less than concrete, obviously) before they got it. Then it was out to the dykes in Pitt Meadows where after a couple of good crashes, they just took off and neither one looked back.rnrnNow they want to start BMX racing next spring. Oh, their mother hasn’t seen anything yet… 🙂

  5. Rod October 8, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Our six year old twin boys had the same type of bikes as you mentioned above, but they always loved them because they allowed them to go faster than their mother had in mind.

    About a year ago we decided to take the training wheels off, so did just that and they took all of about 10 minutes of riding in the front yard (because grass hurts a lot less than concrete, obviously) before they got it. Then it was out to the dykes in Pitt Meadows where after a couple of good crashes, they just took off and neither one looked back.

    Now they want to start BMX racing next spring. Oh, their mother hasn't seen anything yet… 🙂

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