Your Child’s First Bike
My birthday was getting closer and I was hoping that I would be getting my first bike – a bright, shiny NEW, never ridden before, bicycle.
My expectations were high; I could see the bike, feel the bike, almost taste the bike.
The anticipation was killing me as the days dragged on.
I had learned how to ride in the front yard of a neighbor’s house.
My first attempt was a spectacular fall (the judges gave it a 9.8 out of 10).
Number 1, learning to ride on grass was sub optimum.
Number 2, I did not trust the older girl who was stabilizing the bike by holding onto the seat; I pedaled like crazy and turned to check on her – she had let go, and down I went.
The day of my birthday arrived.
We went to my Uncle’s parents’ house out in the country where they had hidden the bike. Which great fanfare, they brought out the bike.
I recognized it immediately; it was my cousin Michael’s old bike.
It was a used bike, not a new bike! Plus it was too big for me and my feet did not reach the pedals when I sat on the seat.
To say I was ungrateful would be the understatement of the century.
I was getting a hand-me-down bike. This just reinforced my feeling that I was a “red-headed step child”, and not part of the family.
(When my cousin got her bike years later, you guessed it, it was a brand new, shiny, bike that fit her just right, which confirmed my feelings of being an outsider).
Now that I have the perspective of time, I realize that my Aunt & Uncle thought that my reaction would have been one of excitement and joy.
After all, this was not just any old, off the rack, plain vanilla bike.
This was a Hop-along Cassidy bike, complete with holsters for my cap pistols. It was a real treasure.
It is quite possible that the crops on their two farms did not do well that year (1 year out of 5 is the norm for a bumper crop) and they just did not have much money to spare.
They probably were able to get the bike free, or at a good rate since my cousin Michael had outgrown it.
It was a tense moment; I am sure they thought I was being ungrateful and a brat, which I was.
When we got home I put my cap pistol in the holster and gleefully shot imaginary outlaws as I rode around.
As fathers we learn not only to manage expectations (no, you cannot have everything you see in the store), but also to ask questions to understand what the focus of the day is (oh, for the last six months it was sharks, now it is fast cars; got it).
I sure wish I still had that bike – I could make a mint selling it on eBay!