Dad was always working and Mom, well, she never learned how to ride a bike and wasn’t keen on her first born learning, but Dad had a different perspective. His kids would learn to ride and love it! He had grown up riding bikes and in his teenage years biked great distances in Ontario with his close friends.
So there it was, a major difference in a married couple, but each trusting the other to make the right choice regarding their children.
Dad taught me to ride at the end of his workday, when I was five and we were living in a townhouse in Pointe Claire, QC. I remember Mom was so very nervous because Dad did not believe in training wheels, and being the oldest, I was the experiment.
‘My daughter will learn to ride without training wheels’, he said emphatically.
‘But Ray, mom would say, she has never been on bike.’
‘It will be fine, I’ll help her, she’s a smart girl’ Dad said with a grin and twinkle in his eye.
Now of course, I would do anything to please Dad. He was my knight in shining armour. I was definitely Daddy’s little girl.
So there I was on the sidewalk in front of our door with Dad standing beside me. I lifted my left leg and mounted the bike with both feet on the ground.
‘Now, sit on the seat’, Dad said.
I hesitated a little, because I thought if I did that, my feet wouldn’t be on the ground anymore.
At that moment, out of the corner of my eye I noticed Mom in the doorway wringing her hands together. I thought she was going to say something, but she remained quiet.
‘I’ll hold you up, sit on the seat, Paula’, Dad said.
Although I trusted Dad, I was now reconsidering this little venture.
I hesitated and looking straight into my eyes Dad repeated …’sit on the seat Paula, put your feet on the pedals, it’s okay, I’ve got you’.
I did as I was told. I was teetering sideways, but not falling off. Hmmm, I thought, this is not so hard.
‘Now pedal, Paula’, Dad said.
I put one foot down while the other went up and this continued and I felt exhilarated. I was riding a bike, okay, with my Dad holding onto the seat running beside me. I went faster and next thing I knew, I was riding! I turned my head to see Dad a foot behind me, and then, boom. I toppled onto the sidewalk.
‘Oh Ray, she’s fallen off’, Mom said worriedly.
‘She’s fine, Anne.’
Dad walked over to me on the sidewalk with the bike on top of me and said,
‘Are you bleeding? Did you break anything?’
I just crashed on the pavement and Dad wants to know if I’m bleeding? I can barely move the bike off of me, yet Dad is not worried.
He stood in between sight of my Mom and myself. What was I going to do? He helped by lifting the bike off me and said ‘Let’s try again, you’re almost there’.
And we did, we tried and repeatedly continued the pattern, until I was riding without him, even if I sported a few scrapes and bruises. I did it, I was riding!!! I was a ‘big girl’ now!!