Teaching your child to ride a bike without stabilisers is one of those things life throws at you as a parent.
This afternoon my niece has been very chuffed with her efforts to rid herself of the Knieval wheels. According to my sister, she can now nicely take herself around the skateboard park, that is of course, unless there are any remote obstacles...within a 100 metre radius. I remember that fact well. It's such an achievement to learn to stay on, that learning to stay on AND avoid other people or kerbs or stationary objects are far buried in the depths of one's mind.
My niece and I are in fact, kindred spirits. I remember my father teaching me, age seven, to ride my red bike on the lawn in our garden. I have a feeling, buried even deeper that this was nothing to do with his sweet natured desire to protect my knees, but more to do with the fact that I was a wuss and "didn't do corners" so, he figured that riding on our grass where I'd have to stop (if I didn't turn) when I hit the fence was probably a better option than the road where I may not have stopped at something far more serious, like a roundabout or cross roads.
Luckily I am pleased to admit that I did pass my driving test the first time around and maybe this was just a hiccup in my ability as a child rather than something that hindered me through life - although I'm sure some, would beg to differ.
As my sister proceeded to give me the low down on my niece's progress, she revealed that my niece did seem somewhat unerved when my sister decided to run after her. Obviously, in my sis's mind, this is with my niece's best interests at heart, she wants to protect her baby if she falls, as any parent would! But no! My niece, bear in mind, she already calls me Mad Aunty Beehive, sees a grown woman lurching towards her, arms flailing and picking up speed, somewhat like a lumbering bear after winter hibernation and...well, what would you do?...She cycles faster, the adrenalin kicks in, heartrate picks up, pedal, pedal, pedal until...the straight, flat space runs out....Luckily my sis always takes the band aids!
In our house, bike riding takes a less pragmatic approach.
Master Beehive the younger has learned to ride his bike - in a straight line - by Mr Beehive taking him out, wobbly, along the canal path!!!
50feet of murky canal water on one side, thorn bushes on the other...you WILL ride or..you will swim, or hurt. Of course, this isn't actually Mr Beehive's intention, he is just looking for flat, straight, safe areas, however, were I to have known that this was the plan de jeux I may have thought twice. Still, the wee fella is an expert! He now rides with his daddy for miles along the canal, is a dab hand at recognising the flora en route (particularly distinguishing between holly and berberis!) and never complains about turning back...I think that MAY have something to do with doing a U turn within inches of the inky black depths rather than his desire for long distance bike riding!
Luckily I didn't ask Mr Beehive to teach them to swim as I do feel that Blackpool Pier is probably not the best place.