Cycling Lessons – Learning to Let Go

 

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This is your present cycle, a yellow Hercules. Unfortunately, I have lost the picture of your first BSA pink-and-silver cycle.

For a long time, I have wanted to write about how I taught you cycling. I was no expert. I did not know how to ride a cycle. I had never ridden a cycle in my life. So I had to rely heavily on web articles and YouTube videos.

 

Your first cycle was a pink and silver BSA with training wheels. We spent several long hours riding it on our terrace, you and I. You were a little boy of five and you refused to ride it unless I held the saddle or the handlebars. Sometimes, I held you under your armpits so that you could learn the fine art of balancing on your own.

It gave me one hell of a backache, but I was determined that you should learn cycling. When I removed the training wheels and told you that you should try riding without them, you rebelled.  And before we could argue about it any further, the monsoons set in. Your little pink and silver BSA lay forlorn and forgotten in a corner of our garden as long as the rains lasted.

When drier days finally rolled in, I rescued the cycle and got it serviced. Your riding lessons started in earnest again, but this time, you were clearly not in the mood.

“I want training wheels,” you whined.

“No, you must learn to balance without training wheels,” I insisted firmly.

“Then I want you to hold the saddle while I pedal,” you replied.

“Just think,” I tried to convince you. “You can’t go fast if I keep holding you. Don’t you want to cycle fast? Don’t you want to cycle long distances?”

“I want to become a pilot,” you said stubbornly. “You don’t need to ride cycles to become a pilot.”

“Oh yes, you do,” I said firmly. “If you can’t ride a simple cycle, how will you fly a plane? A plane goes much faster.”

You carefully weighed the pros and cons and finally decided to give it a try. But you still insisted that I either hold you under your armpits or grip the saddle of your cycle. Since I was tired of the terrace, I decided to take you to Kadri Park Mangaluru for your riding lessons.

 

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A photo of the new gate of Kadri Park Mangaluru. Absolutely cycle proof. 

 

I will never forget those precious moments when I finally let go of the saddle and let you ride on your own. Blissfully unaware that I had let go, you rode on and on. I was so delighted to see you riding on your own that I clapped hard and cheered. And that’s when you realized that you had actually learned how to ride a cycle. I will never forget the look on your face that wonderful day

The park authorities booted us out soon after, but I did not mind because the purpose was served. Apparently, Kadri Park Mangaluru is meant exclusively for walkers, joggers, and runners, not cyclists.

It was the letting go that did the trick. It was not at all easy for me to let go. After all, I did not want my precious baby to fall down and hurt himself.

But my precious pet, as your parent, I have to let go of you. I have to let you fall and get hurt. I have to harden my heart because you will learn all the essential skills of life only if I let go of you, the same way you learned cycling when I let go.

Letting go of you so that you could make your own decisions and live life on your own terms was the toughest parenting lesson I had to learn. It took me a long time to understand that you are born free.

School Stories: A Frustrated Parent

frustrationDear Competition School,

First, I would like to congratulate you for being the most competitive school in this city. One often reads about you in the papers. One sees your banners and hoardings all over the city. You school bus service is the most efficient, your principal is the most dictatorial, and your teachers give the best notes. Your parent community is known for its ability to encourage their children to compete and achieve. The word “competition” is the first that your students learn, and as a result, they are eager even to be the first to finish urinating during the break.

In your thirst to race ahead, you have rendered useless a huge majority of your student population. You have driven their parents to desperation. You have utterly destroyed the beautiful relationship between parents and their children. You have made parents feel that their children are useless if they do not compete and fetch prizes. I hear this statement often in your campus: “He/she is ‘nowhere’ because he/she doesn’t participate in any competition.” You have reduced the value of a little human being to the number of prizes he/she wins. Since prizes are fewer than participants, the value of a majority of your students is zero.

When desperate parents meet your principal to discuss this issue, your principal talks about the importance of “training the students.” “You have to train your children,” she thunders in her dictatorial manner, her eyes burning fire. “Look at our Clever Ones. Do you think they are Clever from birth? They are Clever because their parents train them. Their parents send them to extra classes after school. Their parents see that they maintain proper study hours at home. Their parents spend time and money on them. You do the same. Train your child and we will see that he/she gets all the opportunities in school. Unless you take interest and train your child, you cannot blame us for ignoring him/her.”

Your principal has a knack of rendering frustrated parents speechless. If they try to argue, your principal says in her arrogant way: “Listen, we are Competition School. The focus here is on competition. If you do not like our policies, you may find a less competitive school.”

Your parent community may be the most competitive in the city, but there are a few who cannot agree with you. What exactly do you mean when you say “train your children”? Our children are not animals to be trained. They have a mind of their own. They have the right to make their own decisions. They are valuable human beings. I absolutely resent your policy of assigning them a value based on the number of competitions they win. Our children are valuable because they are our children, not because of their achievements or lack of achievements in your school. And you definitely don’t have the right to deny them opportunities, ignore them, refuse to teach them, and permit your Clever Ones to bully them just because they do not comply with your ideas of what Clever children should be like, especially as you accept the same amount of money as fees from all of us.

Tell me, Competition School, even if we decide to “train” our children so that they somehow fit into the suffocating competitive atmosphere you have created, how shall we do it? You keep our children in your school premises for nearly seven hours. We need another hour or two just to get them ready for school. The teaching that you do in the classrooms is insufficient; so we have to teach them at home or send them for tuitions. To make matters worse, you burden our children with homework, assignments, projects, tests, and competitions almost every day. You are fully aware that our children are too small to do all these things on their own. You know that your homework, assignments, projects, tests, and competitions are actually for us. We are working parents. We just cannot carry this burden, and we definitely do not have the heart to “train” our already burdened child. It is precisely for this reason that at least one of the parents of your Clever Ones is a stay at home. We suggest that you train yourselves to become better educators.

And of course, we will never forgive you for all those times you have stressed us so much that we yelled at our children and even hit them. You and you alone, Competition School, are responsible for all those tempestuous study sessions in hundreds of homes. Instead of making learning a joy, you have made it a pain in the ass not only for our children, but also for us.

Even as I write this, I know that you will not change your ways because your policies are attractive to a huge majority of your parent population. Even as I write this, I know I don’t have the courage to give you this letter personally. I am, therefore, going to drop this as an anonymous letter in your feedback box. I am afraid that you may harass my innocent child if I write my name on this letter.

A Frustrated Parent

The principal of Competition School read this letter with a sadistic gleam in her eyes. One could almost see the fire and smoke spilling out of her nostrils. In fact, she had lost count of the number of times she had read this letter. She read it whenever she felt bored and in need of some entertainment. As she reached the end of it, she let out a bark of laughter. She felt nothing but contempt for the parent community of Competition School. She knew she could control them and keep them in their place as long as she held their children in her iron grip.

She carelessly tossed the anonymous letter inside the drawer. She had already planned to wipe her ass with it as soon as the ink faded away and the words could no longer entertain.

Disclaimer: Above story is a work of fiction based on the real world we live in. If you see yourself or anyone you know in any of the characters, the writer is not responsible.