Parenting was attractive for many reasons, foremost of which was the mainstay of any healthy young male; that is to have as much sex as possible while doing your bit to dynastically supply the planet for future generations.
It’s only when the product of all that count the legs and divide by two action pops out of a business end does the act of copulation suddenly seem slightly premature. Like an uberbitch Wednesday come down after a weekend of booze and drugs; reality bites you in the arse and something immeasurably precious and completely demanding is shoved into your arms.
I don’t ever remember cycling with my Dad. He was always too busy, too tired, too preoccupied with his own life to offer up time to watch his offspring learning how to jump skinny racers in disused quarries. And while “ I hope – my parental obligations have been taken rather more seriously, I’ve failed to invest time in teaching the kids anything other than the rudiments of cycling.
There are good reasons. Firstly, you don’t want to be all competitive dad because I’d rather suffer serial parenting apathy over vicarious screaming from the touchline. It’s unlikely our kids are ever going to be first at anything, for which I’m curiously grateful as the human race is nasty enough without trying to win by pushing.
Secondly, trying to make kids do things they don’t want is a constant challenge “ there’s some bollocks talked about them testing the boundaries. No, they are just criminally lazy and viewing the world from the opposite end to their parents. When asked to go and tidy your bedroom mostly the reply will be why? and that’s a fair question.
So a deal was struck; into the parallel orbit of playing in the park and family riding came Black Park, a place of easy woodland trails and home made ice cream you’d happily sell a child for. Especially a whingy one. And because the Sustrans is boring (Yes it is) we headed out instead for tracks with a personality – a ribbon of hard packed dirt peopled with baby roots and framed by head high vegetation.
My attempts at teaching (if teaching is a word that can be applied to fetching them, bleeding, out of the shrubbery) was mainly of the instructive come on, pedal, pedal, DON’T LOOK AT THE TREE [child bounces off trunk] You looked at the tree didn’t you? and the motivational Right, stop bleeding, get back on and there’s an ice cream in it for you
They did great as did Carol whose increased confidence was nothing to do with me and everything to do with her having a crack at stuff she finds a bit scary. The summary seemed to be that off road riding is hard, falling off can be painful and braking suddenly is generally followed by fetching ones’ bruised nose off the floor. Amazing, it took me YEARS to learn that.
Mark Twain had it right when he said My father knew nothing when I was 18, now I am 21, its amazing how much the old bugger has learned. In that vein, my mum cut through all the modern self help parenting bullshit with Love them, Limit them and Leave them.
She was probably right.