I heard a crash behind me and a wail. I turned around and found my three year old daughter, Meri in a pile. Her arms and legs were wrapped around the wheels, frame, handlebars and seat of her red and yellow balance bike.
I rushed over to her, picked her up and dusted her off.
“The first rule of learning to ride a bike, Meri,” I said, “is that when you fall off you get straight back on again.”
She looked at me a little gingerly and stemming her tears and quivering lower lip, nodded a little uncertainly and got back on again.
Later that day, we bundled both Arun and Meri into the car and headed off for the open green lawns of a National Trust estate not far from where we live. When we arrived Meri was keen to get back on her bike again and off she went, with gradually increasing confidence, ever quicker over the grassy but muddy ground.
After about ten minutes she stopped. She got off her bike and started struggling to pull her helmet off. I wandered over to her, “What’s wrong Meri?”
“It’s Arun’s turn,” She said, gesticulating towards her brother. “I want Arun to have a go too.”
What an angel I thought as Clare, my wife, brought Arun over to the bike and helped him settle on. Arun because of his physical and mental disabilities is both less proficient and less interested in the bike but he was clearly chuffed to have been asked to have a go and so gamely got on and had a try.
I looked proudly at Meri, “Darling, that was lovely. Really nice sharing. I’m so proud of you.” I said as I watched Clare slowly help Arun keep his balance and struggle with the bike to take it up the hill we had just reached.
Then, it struck me, “It seems, Meri, that the second tule of learning to ride a bike is that its your brother’s turn every time you get to a hill.”
We finally reached the playground we were headed for. The kids ran around happily and after a while, we decided to make our way back to the car. Faced with a fifteen minute ride over muddy ground Meri looked less than enthusiastic. She ran off with her Mum and brother leaving me and the bike behind.
“Meri, don’t you want to ride your bike back to the car?” I shouted after her.
Without breaking her stride she shouted back, “Daddy bring it.”
“It seems the third rule of learning to ride a bike is that when you’re bored of it, just get your dogsbody daddy to carry it back for you,” I muttered under my breath as I picked the bike up and started lugging it back to the car.
When we finally got the car, we packed the kids back in. Clare looked at the bike’s wheels. They were covered in mud, grass and leaves.
“Be careful when you put that in the boot. Make sure you don’t get muck everywhere and over everything. And when we get home,” she said getting into the car, “take it straight to the garden and give it a good clean.”
“Seems like the last rule of learning to ride a bike is that daddy gets to clean all the crap up,” I said as I did as I was told.
I never knew there was so much to learn about riding a bike.
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