I want to ride my bicycle

And the winners of the Good Indian Girl competition are… tan- ta-dan!!

1.Sai

2. Chocoholicbookworm

3. Yashodhara

Now write to me with your mailing addresses at themadmomma@gmail.com and sit back and wait for the postman. Remember, he always rings twice. Okay, sorry, PJ.

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Zindagi mein saala jitna bhi karo, kam pad jaata hai. No Aneela, you don’t get points for guessing the movie. And so while the OA and I try to take the kids out to meet their friends, family, new experiences, picnics and parties, the one thing we haven’t settled down to doing is putting the kids into any extracurricular classes or teaching them any real games outside of what they learn in school. They are growing like weeds. Tall, strong and unaccomplished!

I know I’ve posted on my horror of over-scheduling earlier, but to a large extent I have to admit that we’re also (a) Β plain bloody lazy (remember my argument for the Tiger Mom?) and (b) too scatty to commit Wednesday to Abacus and Saturday to guitar classes. Every evening is something new and we love the change and the flexibility. Baking cupcakes, making dinosaur moulds, meeting a friend, going to the market to buy groceries…

In all this, teaching the Brat to cycle fell by the wayside. His side support wheels stayed on and he was the only one his age, not balancing on two wheels. It wasn’t a big deal and we barely realised it because most days he’d be skating or playing ball or doing something other than cycling anyway.Β And the OA would suddenly be hit by guilt pangs at 2 am – Babe, our son’s cycle still has support wheels.

MM: Yes darling. Nothing you can do about it at this hour. Go back to sleep.

Okay, maybe I exaggerate a wee bit! But we did feel bad about it. Once we took the training wheels off and the OA managed to get home early enough to make him cycle just that day, never again. And I, with the pint sized Bean pedaling furiously to keep up, and my bad knee, could not run with him at the speed he needed to cycle so that he could balance. So the wheels were put back. And we felt like failures.

House moving, chicken pox, illness, travel, friends visiting, everything got in the way and the Brat went an entire year more with the side-wheels for no fault of his own.

A few days ago the OA began his fretting when he got back from work; his son would be the only child who’d NEED a car in college because he’d not be able to ride a motorbike at this rate. That’s when I snapped. It’s a father’s job to run behind his kids and teach them to cycle, I said, falling back on obsolete gender arguments. I have enough to do with work, home and kids without adding cycling to that. I’m certainly not aiming for the Saintly Mother title.

The OA silently got up and removed the side wheels. The next day was thankfully a Saturday so all other plans were cancelled (it helped that I had an infection in the intestines that made it impossible to be more than 6ft away from a bathroom) and he took his son out for a ride. Perhaps it’s the fact that the Brat has his father’s fantastic motor skills and not my bumbling, mind-numbing lack of coordination or the harsh truth that at 6.5 he’s older than most other kids learning and far more steady, but he just sailed off.

I stood at the window polishing the grill and watched a beaming little boy zoom past the house, his proud father jogging along side. I know all little children learn to cycle on two wheels but there’s something about your own child learning to do it that makes your heart sing. From the unsteady first step to the ability to balance on two wheels, it’s a long journey and yet when you look back it seems to have gone by in a flash, a blur of spokes on a cycle wheel.

I called out to the Bean who was sulking at having been left at home and she generously forgot her own grouse in the sheer joy of watching her big brother zip past the house yet again. We took pictures, we recorded it and sent it to the relieved grandparents who had despaired of ever seeing him on two wheels and they promptly called back to congratulate him.

Sometimes I marvel at how life has shrunk from receiving awards for journalistic excellence to this little celebration around a child learning to cycle. And yet, as he pulls his cycle out and settles down with a dusting cloth to polish his cycle, a new-found desire to care for it, a new possessiveness as boy and cycle become one, I beam fondly and foolishly for all the world to see. My son cycles. And he already wants to do wheelies and skid and I’m begging him to be careful. It’s such a short step from parent urging child to take that leap of faith to parent urging child to be careful. I have a feeling my days of begging him to be careful have begun.

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Also, a request. Please help a friend with filling out this survey.Β The link to the survey:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dEVVVENLSGdDLUpqUFBhTXV5ek1meXc6MQ

Brief introduction to the survey:

Market Survey – Online Children’s Book Library in Mumbai
This survey is intended to help us better understand demand for, and customer expectations from, an online library delivering children’s books to your home. The library will be based in Mumbai and will have an extensive collection of quality books for young children in the baby, toddler, preschool and primary school age groups. The audience for the survey is therefore parents of children in these age groups living anywhere in Mumbai.
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50 thoughts on “I want to ride my bicycle

  1. Here’s something to make you feel a little more accomplished about that: I learned to cycle while IN COLLEGE. At eighteen πŸ˜€

    Have I told you your blog makes me want to get married and make babies like it’s going out of fashion?!

    • Now, now, let’s not go and do something rash here, shall we? I’ve spent the last 2 years convincing all my friends not to have babies and I’m certainly not going to let you fall into that trap. And oh, that first line? Salve to a guilty heart!

  2. Ok, after adequate consideration, I have come to the conclusion that the tears that spring to my eyes when I read your baby stories have nothing to do with PMS. Reading your blog over the years and following the pics and updates on FB, the Brat and the Bean are as dear to me as the many nephews and nieces that I meet real time, on a regular basis. God bless the darling babies.
    P.S: I didn’t cry at this post – I imagined the Bean furiously pedaling away and its a heart- warmingly funny image and I am still laughing! πŸ™‚

  3. Congratulations to the Brat!!! Beautiful! And so true – one second you tell them to have faith that they will not fall and once they get there you beg them to be careful. I have to not look when KB is in the playground on some days when he does totally crazy things.

    • Congratulations indeed. Poor chap was being held ransom by irresponsible parents. Ah the things we beat ourselves up for. If its not late diaper training its late removal of training wheels!

  4. Congratulations to the little boy! I think we all learn all that we have to only when we are ready ourselves. My parents bought me a bicycle when I was 7. It came with training wheels. That’s all they really did. Me learning to cycle was not really considered to be their responsibility, I think. I don’t think it even occurred to them, or to my friends’ parents. They just left us with it. We all started with training wheels, and then gradually learnt to balance on our own. I wonder how they had such a carefree (and guiltfree) style of parenting. Or maybe times were different. I know I wouldn’t be able to be the same. There is no way I would let my child play in the apartment complex unsupervised, the way our parents let us. It seems too unsafe now.

    Anyway, my little sister learnt to cycle by age 4. Because she had an awesome elder sister who would help her balance, chasing and supporting her bicycle while she pedaled. Can the Bean cycle without training wheels? If yes, awesome! If not, I bet she will catch up soon! Now that the Brat has the hang of it, he’ll make sure she does too. Congratulations again!

  5. So Sweet! How you manage to make simple, mundane things in life so beautiful. Congo to Brat. I wish I had someone like you for a company, who makes every moment worth enjoying. I find not many people are blessed to take life like that.
    “Sometimes I marvel at how life has shrunk from receiving awards for journalistic excellence to this little celebration around a child learning to cycle.” Loved these lines MM, it’s what i usually feel but can’t put to words. Glad u did. In my case, having a cup of tea with loved ones or even in solitude is as divine as any other journalistic accomplishment. Or may be, it’s my way to sugar coat my laziness. But whatever, your posts are beautiful. Stay blessed.

  6. Congratulations to the little sweetheart!

    I am the pathetic one who doesn’t know how to cycle as I was afraid of falling down. My dad and cousin did help me initially and later gave up on me. Husband suffers now, as we always had to rent a tandem bicycle when we go to a picnic/beach.

    Can I ask for some pics of the Brat cycling pls?

  7. How awesome! Can I let you in on a secret? Having your own cycle and being able to zip away when you want to, it really the first taste of freedom. It gave me such a kick to think I had my own mode of conveyance. I think I was slightly older than the brat now is (and sleepy Bangalore was much safer then, than it is now), and I got the greatest kick out of being the one to cycle to the store and run the odd errand now and then. I started cycling to my dance class all on my own, and it was something like graduating from the baby who needed to be escorted, dropped and picked up, to the one who could manage all on her own. Your days of begging him to be careful have truly begun πŸ™‚

    • I miss those days of cycling everywhere. I used to do it as a kid too but it seems like our kids are growing up in such an unsafe world. Traffic in Delhi isnt the sort that encourages independence in a child. 😦

  8. “It’s a father’s job to run behind his kids and teach them to cycle, I said, falling back on obsolete gender arguments.”
    Exactly! Just as it is the father’s job to change batteries, repair broken toys and show the baby photos on the phone (Baby, Mumma doesn’t knooow how to operate the phone :(). There are SOME things which a mother just CAN’T do! If only I could convince him.

    • Oh yes. Batteries is most definitely not my dept. It’s not as though I can’t use a screwdriver, but hey, I’d be perfect if I did EVERYTHING for them no? πŸ˜‰ And who would want to heap that sort of guilt on a poor father’s head. *looks pi*

    • @anna’s mom: LOL at showing photos to the baby on the phone…so so so true…we have my husband’s annoyingly modern phone and an ipad which feels like you need to know how to operate an aeroplane!!! I stay away from such stuff and let my son pester his dad every evening to show him pics…and what is with babies….do they all want to see random photos??? Mine is obsessed with looking at his own baby pics….

  9. congratulations to the Brat :):) and guess what…my 18 months old is still waiting for his Pappa to get home early from office one day and start him on his three wheeler :):) and though its much much easier than a two wheeler…i am sticking to the same gender rules u mentioned :):)

  10. I can imagine what you and OA went through. My son is an year older than brat and was on balancing wheels until Oct-Nov last year. We kept passing the buck..giving ourselves excuses and what not. Finally i decided it’s time to get rid of the wheels. For 2 days i ran behind him in a close by park..day 3 he was on his own πŸ™‚
    BTW, i leart cycling when i was in class 10 and my brother who is a few years younger taught me..and..and…i can’t ride a two wheeler even if my life depended on it. Sigh!!! i only hope my sons don’t end up like me πŸ™‚

  11. OMG!! What a coincidence now! Yohaan doesnt ride his tricycle at all…on top of that his mad parents went and got him a bicycle and we have no energy, inclination or time to teach the poor boy….every night we argue about it…but I also am convinced it is the father’s job. My son is losing out on so much fun because of his parent’s lack of interest in anything extra curricular…sigh. So happy for Brat and his mad family! Well done all of you really!

  12. Hi MM,
    First of all congratulations to the Brat, the OA and yourself! You must be so proud that he learnt to cycle comfortably on the very first day. This is my first comment on your blog, since I am a new reader. However, I went back and read many of your old posts and feel like I know you so well πŸ™‚ Great writing and I am also learning stuff on parenting. I am expecting my first in May 2012!
    Anyways, just wanted to stop and say hi and looking forward to future posts.

  13. I love your blog and read it everyday. Its one of the daily rituals that I do.
    I am commenting here to tell you that my 7 yr old son gave me the courage to cycle ( at the grand old age of 36) and with some more help from a nephew I have learnt to cycle now.
    I have a huge fear of the road and so far was only comfortable in autos/busus/cars πŸ™‚

    And now I cycle 2 + 2 kms to work ! Yah !! I might look like a dork riding a cycle but it gives me immense pleasure to be able to hold my own on 2 wheels and zip past on the slopes. I use the brakes more often than is required, but I still have a good time doing it.

  14. Congratulations to the Brat! He’s truly a big boy now.

    But parenting is becoming so much more difficult now, no? Like Pepper above, I got my first bicycle when I was 7. My dad showed me how to use it ONCE…with training wheels. And then I learnt on my own…there was this ground opposite our house, and I would spend HOURS practising till I got the hang of it. Unfortunately, spaces aren’t safe enough anymore for little children to be doing this by themselves.

  15. Extremely good read!! Reminded me of my bicycle learning days (I was a first year college student!) and then the bi-cycle learning of my daughter.
    Loved your thoughts about co-curricular activities and kids. Loved to know there are parents who are not eager to chauffeur their kids from one extra activity class to another, after school. Flexibility is the new parenting mantra; isn’t it !
    Loved to see how the little sister forgot her sulk and participated in the joy ride of her brother. Loved to see how brat takes care of his possessions. Congratulation Brat and to the parents too!

  16. You’re not alone, we took the training wheels of DD’s bike this past summer when she was 7 amidst a lot of guilt and fretting and guess what she learnt to bike a lot faster because she was tall enough to put her feet down and stop the bike if required. That ability to literally put her foot down gave the confidence needed to tackle this milestone.

    And oh yes, DH ran after her for 2 days while she mastered this art while all I did was praise her to the skies when she’d come back from her bike trips. Some things are best handled by dad πŸ™‚

  17. Ah now thats our big boy! Kids learn so quick these days and they grow quicker and that means they keep learning so many new things each day that I think you’d have a hard time catching up with them πŸ™‚
    So proud of the Brat! I’m sure Bean will not wait for her dad but learn from Brat.
    Hows the knee doing? And hope the instestine bugs are gone. Write more. I kinda miss the little devils. And ofcourse your writing too πŸ˜›
    Hurrah to the Brat, you go boy, go get the world!

  18. Congratulations to your little boy. My daughter is almost 4 and even though she has training wheels, she prefers to be pushed on her bike!

    I love the way you write and actually went back and read your Tiger Mom post. All I can say is ‘I understand every bit of that looooooooong post and enjoyed it thoroughly’.

  19. Congos to the darling! Can we have pictures pleeeease? πŸ™‚

    Is that my name at the top of the post? πŸ˜› Ha my true intention was to find out what MM was upto on V-day, but my attempt failed. Hmph! 😐
    And thank you. I shall mail soon. πŸ™‚

  20. πŸ™‚ long way from the gurgling baby infront of the AC to the sturdy lil’ guy pedalling a two wheeler cycle….My My am getting old 😦

  21. dammit. i ran behind the minx and her cycle for hours. she was cycling at the end of it. but not super confidently. then her father took her out ONE DAY on the bike and she started doing tricks. he wouldn’t even run behind her – just sort of amble along in the general direction. and i have sweated buckets. i always get the short end of the stick, i tell you. good job you guys though!

    • Dude, at least you’re a sportsperson. Can you imagine lame flabby me chasing him down the road? I did it today because I didn’t want him cycling alone on the main road and I’m pooped. As for why kids behave better with fathers, I have no idea. One would imagine they went through labour.

  22. I learnt to cycle when i was 12! And I dont remember my mom spending sleepless nights about it :). Chill maadi MM!

    • Dude, you’re a girl. However sexist that sounds. For men its a huge thing, and the OA was sweating buckets at the thought of his SON not cycling. I can bet you he won’t die over the Bean, mainly because loads of little girls hang around in the park chatting. But the boys would have ostracised the Brat on his four wheels if it had gone on much longer…
      For instance, I know loads of women who don’t drive *koff koff* but I don’t know a single man who doesn’t. It becomes an ego thing there.

  23. Oh yippeee-yaaay!! I started off this new blog (chocoholicbookworm) with a contest and here I am winning one under this id! All good things and good beginnings πŸ™‚

    Thanks love!

    And yes, I so get what you mean about celebrating their cycling victories… For me, it’s one down, one to go πŸ™‚

  24. There’s nothing shrunken about celebrating the passing on of life skills to our young ones–we are perpetuating survival and thriving–it’s what so many of us do as our life’s work. πŸ™‚ Journalistic excellence rewards are wonderful, but doesn’t this make you want to burst with pride and turn cartwheels? A big hug and whoop of joy from Masi OJ.

  25. Oh I can so relate to what you are saying! My son is four and has just started “The big cycle” and when he just took off, side wheels and all, i stood there heart bursting with pride and tears in my eyes… my baby boy is growing up very fast!!! 😦

  26. Well, whaddya know – I am in the same brigade. After ranting on dad’s lack on involvement and hence our son still trundling on trainer wheels, I huffed off to the parlour and came back to see my son zipping on the road without trainer wheels. Needless to say, hubby is chuffed that it took exactly 5 mins to get the job done .Some people have all the luck and some just rant endlessly .

    Oh , and sooooo good to be able to read you again .

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