I’m better than you, Dad

So proclaimed Random, my five year old daughter on ditching here stabilisers for good. Her rationale for such a bold hypothesis was grounded in the immutable fact that I fall off more. Fair enough.

One of the few rules of ‘stuffing the hedgehog’ (other than the aggressive use of rambling metaphors) was that at no point would it turn into ‘what I did on my holidays’. Obviously I didn’t plan for it to turn into ‘what I did on my way to work’ but that’s by the by. It’s only one step up from sending pictures of your kids in Christmas cards, accompanied by a self congratulatory note concerning firstborn’s prowess at piano and the state of the rhododendrons.

Wrong, on so many levels. This isn’t me being a blob snob, it’s just, well, wrong.

But for once, and only once, I’ll make an honourable exception excused by playing the proud father card.

Jessie #5 Easy when you know how

Jessie #7 Pink, it’s the new black

We’ve been trying for a while. Random is pretty fearless and her early stablised riding technique was to crash in the bushes when she wanted to stop. As this was ‘easier than remembering how to brake’. But once the little wheels were removed, it became apparent that this approach traded badly in the balancing and staying upright market. We’d circle round with yours truly acting as the organic stabiliser only for a wobble/crash/cry scenario to unfold the second I let go.

It’d been bad enough with my first kid who eventually learnt that pedaling was easier than being shouted at to ‘do it properly‘. This lack of patience just reduced Random to that crumpled face child thing they do guaranteed to inspire guilt ridden sweets and apologies. But sometimes, I feel the need to spend some time in the land of the Competitive Dad.

Just before she wobbled off unencumbered by an exasperated and lightly perspiring parent, we had this conversation

Dad, I’m cold, it’s wet, my leg hurts, I’m bleeding from multiple wounds and I want to go home
(I’m paraphrasing here, mainly I just tune out the “whine, whinge, blood, home, mummy” stuff)
Look, you’re so close to doing it. There’s a whole tub of ice cream with your name on it. Just pedal, that’s all there is to it” (obviously I didn’t want to confuse her little mind with stuff like balance, steering, impact trauma, that kind of thing)
I can’t DO IT
YES YOU CAN
NO I CAN’T (cue petulant stamping of foot)
(at this point I resorted to the magic talisman which almost always gets results. I outed the camera)
Go on, have one more go and I’ll take a picture to show all your friends
Ok then” (kids eh, so bloody fickle)

She set off down the little hill, arms locked tight in terror and staring at a tree which may soon become a painful part of her near future. “Look round the corner” I screamed helpfully. She complied, and turned the bars so sharply I was convinced I’d be fetching her out of the shrubbery again in a few seconds. But no somehow she wobbled round the corner in a parody of a curve before sawing on the bars and pushing her little legs just to please her dad.

Get a picture, get a picture” She pleaded. I snapped away only for her to get carried away. A couple of circuits and now she’s Lance Armstrong, powering down the hill, tipping the bike into the bend and puffing her way up the other side. Then, of course she fell off – luckily, having some experience in this area myself, I recognised the inevitable so prevented a difficult conversation with social services due to 100{45ac9c3234d371044e23e276755ef3a4dde8f1068375defba7d385ca3cd4deb2} offspring bruising, by simply throwing myself under the impending accident.

Once I’d gingerly removed handlebar, daughter and assorted tarmac scrapings from my battered torso, it became apparent that the only casualty was the camera. Ah well, small price to pay for seeing your kids battle their little demons and emerge unscathed and alomost exploding with pride. She insisted on going round again whilst I painfully mused on the consequences of the unscheduled tarmac graft.

On arriving at home, she burst into the kitchen and announced “I’m the best rider in the family now” to her long suffering mum.

She’s probably right.

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