Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'll tumble for ya

Mancub has a new bike. What's not known is that he never learned how to ride a bike when he was little. I can't make excuses for my poor parenting. It just never happened. We bought him a bike with training wheels when he was 4 or 5. At that point his father and I were still married. We had a home in a new neighborhood set out in the countryside. No sidewalks. We were lucky to have paved roads.

He quickly outgrew the little bike as I outgrew the marriage. The divorce occurred and I moved to a little house that sat about 20 feet off the highway. Nothing but pasture surrounded us out back. Mancub won a bicycle at the local gas station that held a contest with Slurpee Dog or some such. It sat on our porch undisturbed with little riding. Between my job and shuffling the boy to and from his dad's, which was a round trip of 1.5 hours, where was there time for bike lessons? His dad lived in an area without sidewalks, too. Let's just say Mancub learning to ride the bike was a doomed effort.

Now he's 14 and in possession of a great mountain bike. His father lives in Texas. Guess who gets to pull out the super parent skills? Me. The least patient of all moms in the world. Not to mention the boy is bigger than me. Holy shit! Yeah, I'm allowing myself to say it. This is not an easy task, but I'm determined.

I've been mentally preparing the boy so he realizes that cuts, scrapes and bruises will happen. A little road rash won't kill him. It'll build character and he can embellish on the tales of how he came to get the wounds. I figure it'll give him an edge with the girls.

Today we set out to the local school yard. With plenty of space and few bumps in the pavement, I figure it the best setting. I made certain no other kids were there shooting hoops. I do not want my child humiliated.

I tried a couple different techniques to help him gain balance. Neither worked. I've taught other kids to ride bikes back in my babysitting days. I thought I knew what I was doing, but a 6'2" 225 lbs kid is waaaaaaaaaaaaay different than a 65 lb first grader riding a banana seat bike adorned with a floral basket.

We were moving along very well. He managed to maintain balance for a few feet on his own. I was merely running along (yeah, laugh! Because seeing me running is very much like Gloria the Hippo in Madagascar I & II.). Instead of packing it in as Mancub requested, I insisted he was on the right track and that wasn't the best time to stop. He was making brilliant progress.

With the bike pointed toward home, I promised we'd just work our way back to the house but to continue trying.

With my hand firmly gripping the seat, he pushed off and we were making great strides. Then ..




He stopped dead in his tracks without forewarning me as he'd done on previous attempts and ....

I tumbled like a Mumak in Lord of the Rings: Two Towers. I probably let out a gutteral moan similar to the mammoth elephant like beast, too. I think I put my hand down which absorbed the brunt of the impact. The jarring jammed my shoulder upward and my elbow buckled and it hit the pavement as I tucked and rolled without hitting my head, but managed to bite my lip. My left knee hit pretty hard, too. With expletives spewing forth, I'm sure the people across the river are now saying a prayer asking God to have mercy on my soul. I surmise that when Mancub dropped his left foot, my right foot hooked and caused me to trip and go flying.

So, while I was concerned about Mancub suffering injury and insisting upon use of a helmet, I believe it is I who needs the helmet, knee pads and elbow guards in this endeavor to learn to ride a bike.

We walked home and I quickly bandaged my hand and currently have an ice pack on my left elbow. I'm sore as hell. A second ice pack is needed, but not on hand. My knee is throbbing and sure to have an ugly bruise by morning.

After being home a few minutes Mancub came to me with a quivering bottom lip. He feels just dreadful for causing me to fall. I tried to joke about how funny I must have looked from his perspective. With that my gentle giant began to sob ... 'I could have killed you!!!!!' he wailed.

Being a single parent has its rewards, but it's so difficult to also have to bear these moments alone.

when I was learning to ride, I remember hitting trees and crashing, but I have no recollection of my dad tucking and rolling. Ever.

I have to do this all again on Tuesday after work. I might have a slight gimp. I might move a little slower and groan a little louder. However, I'll be damned if this is going to bench me for the season. My boy will be riding solo even if it kills me in the process.

In the meantime, pass me the Advil. Better yet, hook a sister up with something stronger, will ya?


  1. Ouch! It sounds like a tough day for you! We had a similar challenge recently (minus the parental falls, which is unusual for my clumsy self), teaching my 12 year old son how to ride a bike. He wasn't allowed to ride a bike (even with training wheels) for large parts of his younger years due to his open heart surgeries, and he was a bit embarrassed to be the only kid in the neighborhood who couldn't ride sans training wheels this past winter. A neighbor (who is a policeman) said that the secret is to "walk" the bike- stand up and walk with your feet on the ground on either side of the bike for a week to get used to the balance, then slowly work your way up to actually sitting and riding. My opinion was that it was a really stupid idea, but Joey tried it. Within a week and a half, he was riding like a champ with only occasional crashes. Now he rides from our house to Clearwater Beach and back, a 15 mile round trip. John can probably explain the method a bit better, let me know if you want me to ask him about it. Big ups to you and your boy for taking on this challenge!

  2. You're an awesome Mom, Rissa :) Bumps..bruises..the whole nine yards!

  3. DOH! Disregard what I said above, I was telling my boys about it and they said I had it fifty kinds of wrong. The correct method is to TAKE OFF THE PEDALS and walk the bike for a week to gain balance...leaving the pedals on will just result it bruises and scrapes on shins. Jeez, I'm dangerous!

  4. Sherrie, that was one of the methods I tried convincing him to go with, but he kept grunting and stopping and making noises because the peddle was hitting the back of his leg. He has a hard time attempting something if he's not immediately great at it (Much like me). So, unlike my parental units, I'm not letting him give up.
    I'm going to tell him about Joey's triumph and the method he used to learn. Maybe it'll help. thanks so much for sharing your story.

    KIKI!! It's so nice to see you commenting. Thanks a bunch. I've always been overly protective of Spen, but I realize I can't do it forever. I always plan on having a little heartbreak whenever I let go a little, but I didn't plan on feeling like I have whiplash LOL

  5. HA! I hadn't thought about removing the peddles. Groovy idea. That'll keep him from grunting and making faces at me like I'm trying to kill him.

  6. i think I may have knocked my head. I'm spelling pedal wrong. Jeez!

  7. I'm proud of you. That took courage on both of your parts and even more courage to post the story.

  8. oh honey!!

    You are the best momma in the whole world. I let someone else teach tween to ride a bike, because I am truly the most impatient mother, ever. After the first four attempts, we were both grunting at each other, and it was turning into a miserable experience.

    My neighbor stepped in and taught her, had it done in 10 minutes. I wish I knew his secrets. His kids all learned just as quick. :/


  9. Oh MissRiss I'm so sorry you took a tumble, and I've never taught anyone older than 6 to ride so I'm not much help here except to tell you that he can't really balance at a walking pace. Give him a loving push off and see what happens.

  10. OH, I was RUNNING. No walking ...that's why when he put his feet down and stopped cold, I tripped and went into a lovely stop, drop, tuck and roll.

  11. I give you a lot of credit for all of that effort. And just so you know my parents are still together, but try as he might my poor dad couldn't teach me to ride very well when I was a kid. After one too many run-ins with the fences in the alleys I gave up and still don't ride.


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