When I was a child, I was amazing at sport.
It didn’t really matter what the sport was: football, rugby, 100m sprint, 1500m long distances, I was fantastic. To this day, my spare bedroom is chock full of trophies, medals and shields chronicling my sporting career, cut all too short by a lazy tackle and a broken leg at the tender age of 12. My Olympic dreams shattered. The developmental contract with Barcelona torn up and flung into the fire.
Not really. I was rubbish. Still am. It just felt really good to write that.
I would’ve liked to have been good at sport. I really like watching and playing but my brain and my muscles have never been on good speaking terms. It’s not a big deal, I still have my sense of humour. What’s upsetting is that I may have passed on my incompetence to my first born.
Let’s just say he’s no Messi. He’s no Bolt either. Or Phelps. Or … well you get the idea. Thing is, I understand how fathers feel about their sons and sport. Even if they have no ability themselves, there’s a certain sense of pride a father gets (or loses) when they see their sons playing outside. It’s mindless, it’s misguided, it’s irrational, I know! But it’s there! When I first saw The Breakfast Club, I used to sympathise with Emilio Estevez’s character for having such a dick for a dad. No I watch it and think, “y’know, I should really push my sons more!”.
You gotta be number one!
My sons got bikes last year. Learning to ride a bike – man, that’s a pain! Of course, I refused to have stabilisers / training wheels. I fought with my wife, “Take those stabilisers off! He’s not gonna use stabilisers! They’re an emotional crutch! How will he ever learn?!”. She agreed with me. Of course, I was right. The stabilisers stayed on.
I had to put my foot down. I unscrewed those two wastes of money and took him out to the park. Right! We’re gonna get this done. One day. Easy-peasy. Just find your balance and pedal. I’d seen it in Gillette adverts – you hold on to the saddle, he rides it for a bit and then he’s on his own. A proud tear falls down your cheek as your boy rides on and on all the way to university. The best a man can get.
After a frustrating couple of hours, I thought this kind of scenario better suited for adverts for backache relief cream than razors.
I stumbled on this book, “Life Skills: How to Do Almost Anything” a collection of articles taken from the Chicago Tribune. If there’s something you want to do, this book most likely will have you covered. Including teaching your kids to ride a bike. It took two days and he was done. Two days and no backache. The section was written by Howard Roth who has an e-book called “Riding Made Easy”. It’s about $15 which seems a little steep but is probably no more than buying stabilisers anyway.
Take the pedals off the bike. Get your child to sit on the bike and shift his weight from the left foot to the right and back. Left and right. After they have mastered that, ask them to lift both feet off the ground and see if they can balance.
Day 1 / 2
Keep the pedals off and let them sit and walk with the bike. Once they get the hang of this, they can go faster and faster. Turn it into a competition to see how many seconds they can keep their feet off the floor. There’s a lot of pedal-less balance bikes out their, especially for toddlers. My youngest has one. There’s a lot of positive reviews for them and I’m sure kids can transition quickly onto pedal bikes. But unscrewing the pedals on a real bike seems to be a more economical option.
Game day! Screw the pedals back on and watch your child fly. It really was that simple. In two days my son could ride a bike and he hasn’t looked back since. Of course, in typically tight fashion, I refuse to buy him a helmet – they’re emotional crutches…!
Photo credit: Darnok