We haven’t had many opportunities for Bunny to get out on her bike recently as it can be a bit of a mission when there are pushchairs and dogs involved too, so I thought I’d suggest we cycle to school this week. I haven’t been on my bike for nearly a year and am keen to get fitter so we would both benefit.
With sunshine forecast and a bit of organisation to get ready early, the second day back at school seemed ideal. So I got our bikes out and when she asked if we were going in the car, surprised her and said we could cycle all the way.
Unfortunately, over the weekend, we’d destabilised her stabilisers to get her used to having to balance without plunging her in entirely. Yet this has apparently been enough to make her too scared to ride it. As we set off, she squealed as the bike wobbled a little and I had to reassure her she would be ok and that the bike wasn’t going to fall over. She got going and was alright until she reached the slight slope of a driveway and wobbled again. At which point she cycled into the wall as she screamed in fear. Now, perhaps this was when I should have turned around and given up, but I want her to conquer her fears not be defeated by them so I encouraged her some more, gave her some advice about leaning away from the bike if it feels unsteady, etc, and we tried again. She even laughed about hitting the wall.
As we continued, she kept telling me to go more slowly, however, I was in danger of falling off my bike too as mums with toddlers strode past us (and even the odd snail)! Her caution was taking too long and as we got to the point where people who had walked past us on the way to school were now walking past us on their way back I knewwe were very, very late.
And this is where I started to get angry. She hadn’t fallen off at any point, yet was acting as if she had and her being late for school also meant me being late for work. And having to cycle as if my life depended on it on my first time on a bike for 10 months.
As we entered the school grounds, I could see we were the last there and actually had to call to the lady on the gate not to shut it (meaning an extra 5 minute walk to go round to reception to sign in the late book). Bunny was in tears and I was close to them. A lovely treat had turned into a complete nightmare and I was regretting ever considering it.
I shouted at Bunny to hurry up, she shouted back to take her bike and I threw her bag and water bottle into her hands and virtually shoved her through the gate, thanking the lady for waiting.
Now, this is not the normal for me. I never leave Bunny at school without giving her a big cuddle and a kiss, and the thought of her going into her classroom crying fills me with horror. So of course, I spent the morning on the verge of tears, wondering if I should call the school to check on her, or if I should take an hour out of work to pop over there and give her a cuddle. Neither of which I did as I couldn’t quite work out if this would make me look even worse than I already did.
And then, I picked her up from school. I expected a scowl or a rebuff to any hugs I offered, but instead, she gave me a big cuddle as usual before asking if we could wait for her friend. And then chattered away about her day, proudly showing me the grazes on her hands and side from where she’d fallen over in the playground. It was as if the hellish start to the day had never happened and my day of self-torture had been for nothing. Well not entirely as it taught me a valuable lesson. And we won’t be taking the bike to school again for a while until she’s got her confidence back!
But thank you to all the tweeters that gave me the needed support that day when I was crumbling. You all were right, she was fine and one outburst doesn’t make me a bad mother even though I felt it at the time.
I really am not suited to the Tiger Mom style of parenting it seems and shouldn’t try it!