And the winners of the Good Indian Girl competition are… tan- ta-dan!!
Now write to me with your mailing addresses at email@example.com and sit back and wait for the postman. Remember, he always rings twice. Okay, sorry, PJ.
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) 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. 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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