Last summer as I worked in corporate sales (it no longer needs a capital – that’s right!) I was either getting the kids up early in the morning to go to the child-minder, or setting them up on one activity while I rushed off to answer emails.
This summer, thanks entirely to redundancy, both my kids learned to cycle! It was amazing to see the sense of pride and achievement on their wee faces. I had time to teach them, go slowly, and savour every minute of it.
I asked friends and neighbours, who had taught them to ride and what age they were – every single person had a crystal clear image of it, like it was yesterday. Most involved ancient black bikes, where your feet didn’t touch the ground, the brakes weren’t working and oh the last crucial part – there was a steep hill involved.
I learned to ride on a tricycle. Yes I know technically a two-wheeled bike is what most people learned on. But yes, I was different. The man we bought bikes off in Portglenone, lived out the Townhill road – I don’t think I ever heard anyone address him by a first name- just to say ‘we’ll get a new bike at Bristows’. Mr Bristow was recycling before we even heard of the word. He would swap wheels, re-paint, and fit new chains. I don’t know if he fixed brakes as all ours were consistently brake-free.
Anyway, one day I went over with my dad, and the only bike that was my age group was a huge tricycle. Which I rode around our yard until I was at least ten. Peer pressure wasn’t in our rural vocabulary – obviously! I had that tricycle for years. I remember vividly a AWOL turkey on the back of it pecking wildly at me as I tried to cycle away – never realising it was on the bike with me. Oh the fun I generated for my family as a child!
I clearly remember learning to ride a bike. There are a few other key childhood memories mostly about me and the untimely deaths of pets but that’s another blog entirely.
As I taught Charlie and Aoife to cycle, I remembered I had been putting that off for months as I didn’t have the time. Yet again redundancy gave me the time, and created memories for the children. I would have bought brand new bikes if I was working – but I bought second-hand – Mr Bristow taught us well!