1.10.2010

driveway lessons

I didn't learn to ride a bicycle until I was seven or eight years old. I didn't think there was anything weird about it, but it was way past time. One day my mom put her foot down and decided to make me figure it out. After a few frustrating driveway lessons, I could wobbily make my way from point A to point B-- so long as points A and B were only a few feet apart.

Eager to sharpen up my skills, my mother told two neighbor girls that I wanted to go for a bike ride with them. I didn't know the girls very well. One of them was older than I was and (bless her heart) had a bit of a mustache. The younger one was my age and I'd seen her around at recess but we weren't friends. I could immediately sense that things weren't going to go well. I tried to say I didn't want to ride, but I was already locked in. My heart sank a little as I pushed my bike out to the street where they were standing. I was an only child who spent most of her time dancing to "Kitten On The Keys" in her basement. They were sisters, kids who played outside and raced each other, kids who knew how to not fall off of bikes.

I barely made it ten feet down the street in front of my house before things fell apart. I was mortified. I didn't know what I was doing. I fell again and again. I brushed the gravel off of my knees and I fell into the street again. The same street with the large sign that says "Clark Park" on one side-- the sign with which I would one day, smiling and full of grown up confidence, photograph my son Clark. Of course I didn't know the grown-up confident version of myself yet, and as I tried to keep up with the girls on the bikes, the street and the experience seemed eternal. I tried not to cry, but I was just too embarrassed and I couldn't hold it in.

By the way, this is the story of why I don't like riding bikes. I do not own a bicycle.

I have two other memories of those girls. Once I ran into them in a department store at Christmas time. My mom had dressed me up, red hat to pointy toe, like one of Santa's elves and was having my photo taken. I passed them in the store and they looked at me and said hi. I don't think I said anything because I was dressed like an elf. Another time I went to a birthday party at their house, and someone told me that their grandma used to live with them and she died in the bed we were sitting on. I left the party early.

16 comments:

  1. I cant totally relate to this as I dont ride bikes either! When I was 13 i went on a school trip to wales and we were taken off road biking, it was through water, across bumpy rocky tracks proper rough terrain. I was given a boys bike with a high bar which I was no used to and everytime I got to a rock I panicked and braked. Needless to say I ended up going over the handle bars about 5 times before bursting into tears and refusing to ride the rest of the 3 miles... I walked with my heavy bike and my pedal kept scraping my leg-the shame! Since then I have never ridden! I guess I'll leave the bike lessons to my OH although I hope he doesn't do the whole "I promise I wont let go" I remember when my daddy did that it didnt exactly work as I completely panicked and fell off!

    I grew up in a totally sport orienatated family; football (soccer), cricket, badminton, tennis... I somehow have no coordination what so ever!

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  2. I love your story, so well written. I learnt to ride early due to my nextdoor neighbours very adventurouse mother. My mum had never learnt to ride. After she taught all the local kids she made my mum learn to. So it was my poor mum at the age of 40 that had to deal with the embarisment of falling off infront of those expert bike riding kids.

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  3. OMG - I love this post! I hurt for you and then I laughed...it was fabulous! I'm sorry for your embarrassment, we all have our moments, don't we? Being a kid can be rough, but I absolutely love random childhood memories.

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  4. Omg! I love this! My daughter will probably write this same post when she grows up... I really like reading your blog!
    MrsMom

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  5. I totally blocked all memory of learning to ride my bike. It wasn't pretty. I have one, but I really don't enjoy riding it....

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  6. I've never been a fan of bike riding either... though I don't think anything quite that traumatic happened! I'd much rather walk on my own two feet :)
    This was a beautifully crafted story, thank you for sharing with us!

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  7. I totally need to know who these girls were :)

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  8. Mustache-girl has been haunting me since I first read this last night. Beautiful storytelling.

    I had similar situations with horses. I wanted to be one of the horse-y girls like Debbie Plies and her sister. I fell off horses. A lot. I still like horses, especially if I don't have to get on them.

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  9. Your bicycle story sounds like mine! I didn't ride a bike until I was 7 or 8 and I finally did because the neighbor girl had a 10 speed and didn't think I knew how to ride it (I didn't) so I rode it down her driveway swerving all over right into the street. Some time after that I learned to ride a bike for real.

    Steph

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  10. I hate riding bikes! I don't have any clear and good reason for it. I just don't like them. Maybe it's because I used to fall a lot. Levi seems destined to be different from his mommy on this one.

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  11. i love it.

    and we all had weird moustached girl neighbors, i think. so funny.

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  12. I was that girl that rode without hands down the gravel road while camping with the family.

    You are a good story teller my friend. Let's get together? Yes. Seriously (and stop writing about it and just DO IT). :)

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  13. Oh, your story made me a little sad for your 8-year-old self. Were you mad at your mom for making you go out there? I'm sure she felt horrible afterwards...

    stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

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  14. This is so funny. I am a follower. Looking forward to more posts.

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  15. I love your honesty! This is a great post. I have had so many awkward moment throughout my life. I can totally relate. Growing up is tough sometimes, but it's good to look back and laugh. I am glad you have become more confident. You are a wonderful mommy and have lots to be proud of ;)
    Blessings,
    Molly

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