On your bike lad and don't look back

Published 28/01/2014 | 05:34

I have learned that there are many occasions in this life when a parent needs to know to pull back, and leave a child be.

In their formative years, seminal moments arrive fast and furiously. Such as the first time a kid picks up a hurl and asks what to do with it, or a guitar and ask how to play it, or a shoelace and asks how to tie it, or points out a little heart and asks how to win it.

What they need to get their little heads around is that getting good at something takes a lot of work on their behalf, and lots of patience on the parents'.

A few months back the young lad showed an interest in playing the keyboard. A decision was quickly made that we would let him tinker about himself until he learned his way around the instrument, before the overzealous (and at times self-indulgent) dad barged in with his own ideas; that's when motivation can be harpooned. The good woman, therefore, has been showing him the ropes.

With this in mind, a seminal moment passed in the young lad's life at the weekend. Last year, for his birthday, we got him his first big bike. Gone were the stabilisers and for the first couple of months, he mulled over such a daunting task. We watched as he would pick up the bike, straddle it, try to take off, before crashing to his left or right-hand-side. He quickly learned what was expected of him, but getting the job done proved difficult.

We explained to him that all it takes is an instant of understanding. A Eureka moment, when it all clicks. Then he'll never look back.

We took a walk to the shop on Saturday morning, and the young lad brought his bike. Without a fuss, I took my grip from his saddle, as I had done countless times before. Then something remarkable happened. For a good 20 metres he sailed down the road, wobbling east and west, before coming to a controlled stop. Then he jumped off his bike and did a jig. Finally, he knew how to ride a bike.

At that moment I knew how the Wright Brothers must have felt after they first jumped off a wall. Or Tony McCoy felt after his first pony ride. Or Paul McCartney felt when he first strummed an A Minor. Or how David Copperfield felt when he first made his mother's slippers disappear. It was one small step for the young lad, and another accomplishment for him to tick off the list that dictates the expectations of life. He's growing at a rate of knots; it won't be long before he asks for the keys to my car.

Gorey Guardian

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