2 September. 7:16 AM. 'The Cycle'

When I'm old and grey, which will probably be a week from now, and I'm asked to list my biggest achievements, teaching you how to cycle will probably feature on top of that list.

Followed closely by managing to stay out of a lunatic asylum, but that's for another post on another day.

By the time you grow up, (and if you're anything like me, with the memory of a goldfish), you probably won't remember how it all happened.

So let me refresh your memory, muffin head. Pour yourself a glass of something alcoholic and listen up. And use this when if someday, you decide to have a little muffin head of your own.

The first thing I did, was of course, get you a cycle. But I didn't just pick up one for you. I took you to Decathlon and had you pick one for yourself. Why? Because I didn't want to force anything down. Having said that, when you asked if I could get you a cycle that would set me back twenty grand, I think I mumbled something about how advertising jobs don't pay that much. Anyway, so we got you a nice white cycle with pink handles. And then we assembled it with mud guards, a bottle holder, a cute little bell. Then, because apparently cycling is a dangerous sport and kids can get hurt, we picked up elbow guards, knee guards and a helmet.

Funny how I learned cycling fine without these things.

Oh wait, we had to buy training wheels too.

The second thing to do was let you get used to your cycle. So we'd go out in the evenings, and you'd just sort of get to know how it worked, what happened if you pressed the brakes too hard, what happened if you swerved too soon, how fast the cycle could go - all those things.

And then we didn't cycle anymore for almost six months. I think it was the time when you moved houses, and you preferred playing in the park with me over cycling. So we did that for a bit.

Then one day, I took your cycle and took the damn balancing wheels off. Normally, you're supposed to keep one on, till the child learns how to balance properly. But I decided to throw you into it head on. I figured it'd take you longer to learn, but once you did, you'd have your basics right.

Once the training wheels were off, the next few days were slightly hellish. I had to hold the centre of the handlebar and guide the cycle while you peddled. You fell, you hurt yourself, you swore never to cycle again, but both you and me kept at it.

Four days down, you still hadn't learned to balance. And I'll be honest - I thought fuck it, let's just go to the park and ride on the swing. But then, I had one of those little brainwaves.

The trick, I thought, was getting to know where your centre of gravity was. So here's what I did. I kept the cycle aside, and I told you to stand, balanced on one leg, with your hands out. I asked you to balance yourself for as long as you could. I stood with you, showing you how, when you're losing balance, you can off-set it using the weight of your hand.

We did that for that whole evening. You were frustrated, and it showed.
And then, just before it was time to reach you upstairs, I took you for one last spin, guiding the cycle, as I was doing before.

And then, unknown to you, I left it. Knowing you'd fall on your face.
And you did. But before you did, you managed to balance yourself for a precious 3 seconds.

You were stunned. You didn't think it was possible.
You fell, got up, looked at me and shouted 'DID YOU SEE THAT??'

Hahaha.
Of course I did.

The rest was easy. Once you knew you could do it, your confidence was nuts. You ordered me to leave the handlebar. What was 3 seconds before quickly became 7, and then 20, and then one whole minute.

And just like that, you learned to cycle.

I still run behind you, just in case you fall into the bushes, or lose your balance on a turn. But I'm going to stop doing that soon.

Firstly, because I can't keep up. Secondly, because I want you to navigate your own way through the hurdles that you face. Of course you'll fall flat on your face. Of course you'll be bruised. Of course you'll be scratched up bad.

But you'll learn what not to do, the next time around.

And I'll be watching from a distance, heart swelling with pride, and secretly patting myself on the back for having taught you cycling and a life lesson or two.


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