I watched my five year old lumbering down the road on her ridiculous bike...
It had pink everything including a basket on the front and a seat on the back for her cuddly toys. The frame was made out of heavy metal and the wheels were far too small for it to be practical. Add the inevitable stabilisers and she was huffing and puffing it round the park.
“It’s a crap bike,” I said to my wife standing beside me.
“It’s the one she chose, “said Clare.
“Yeah but it’s too heavy and cumbersome. She’s really going to struggle to learn to ride it.”
The following day, Clare was parked in front of the TV watching a YouTube video on how to teach kids to ride a bike.
“It’s simple,” she said. “All you need to do is lower the seat so that her feet can touch the ground easily and then you take the pedals off so she learns to ride it like a balance bike and then put the pedals back on.”
The alpha-dad on the video did this with aplomb and style. In the video his daughter started pedalling and she was off.
“A little tip,” Alpha dad said, looking into the camera. “When she gets going take a few steps back so that when she stops she thinks she’s gone further than she actually has.”
So, that afternoon, I went to it. I set about lowering the bike seat which took a lot longer than Alpha dad on account of me being crap and the huge amount of pink paraphernalia that I had to remove from my daughter’s bike before I could adjust the seat height. I took the pedals and the stabilisers off and she tottered down to the park.
After a few rounds using the bike as a balance bike, I put the pedals back on. We were ready to go.
Firmly set up on the grass we gave her some final instructions. “Remember to steer and use your brakes if you need to stop. Just look ahead and get pedalling.”
Meri nodded, excited and apprehensive in equal measure.
I stood behind her, steadying her. My wife stood a few yards away with her i-phone in her hand, looking to capture the ensuing triumph or carnage for posterity.
Meri started pedalling and I released her and started walking backwards like Alpha dad had told me to.
I didn’t need to. Within moments she was off, 10, 20, 50 yards away as I laughed out aloud and Clare whooped with joy. Once Meri got about 70 yards away she even performed a deft turn and came back towards us.
I gave my wife a hug. “I’ll remember this moment for the rest of my life.”
It really is what being a dad is all about.