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.
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.