In the past weeks apart from learning to lip synch to Let It Go (because apparently my voice is annoying), just as important as not holding back is knowing exactly when.
For example, in case you have forgotten, learning to ride a bike without stabilisers is hard work. It’s especially hard if when it comes to the practice of calm mindfulness, your mum is the opposite of a yogi, because she’s yet to get eight weeks off from work to do yoga and eat croissants (after literally – not metaphorically – losing some back bone). And if your dad was around, he would possibly have more patience but only after having exchanged the bike for cannabis.
So my daughter’s inability to ride a bike without training wheels was just a metaphor for the guilt I felt about our incomplete family. Yet her stabilisers hardly touched the ground so I knew she could do it, but she was as confident as the Bank of England. I’d hold and run behind her and then let go without warning. I thought this was commonly practiced pedagogy. “Are you holding? Are you holding?” “Yes! Keep pedalling!” I’d lie. But rather than cycling to the sun set she’d get completely hysterical and probably lost all trust in me for the next ten years.
Then one of these days, I didn’t let go. “Are you holding? ARE YOU HOLDING?” “No! You’re doing it yourself!” I lied. “SERIOUSLY? AM I GOING ON MY OWN? I’M PEDALLING ON MY OWN!” she cheered and the next time she demanded I step aside and just watch as she went by: “I’M THE CYCLING CHAMPIOOOOON!”
The thing about kids is that I suppose one can always plunge them into the water. But if they don’t sink they’ll get back to the surface more bitter than when they went down. I hope I can remember our cycling experience through her childhood and teenage years: Let her go in spirit and think she’s doing it herself.
This is the lesson number two: parenting is not a job for the credit hungry – they’ll never give you that and that’s ok, it shouldn’t be. But maybe when she has her own kids, I will tell her, guess what, I was holding you that whole time. That’s why you didn’t fall.