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Daddy Lessons Bites!: Of Bikes And Boys
Bikes Are Awesome.
I remember when I first rode a bike. I don't exactly know how I remember, being I was just 2-4 years old, but I remember getting my first bike from my grandpa. It was back home in the Philippines, and, like many things back home, I'm most certain it was handmade. Forged steel. No fancy Disney characters, rubber handles, or colorful flags. No bells and whistles. Just a forged steel, heavy duty tricycle. I've had many bikes since then, but that bike will always be memorable.
Now, as a father myself, I wonder if my sons will remember their first bikes. I plan on using tools that my grandfather, who raised me, did not have (besides the camera)--like video, Instagram, YouTube.
But if my grandpa only had a cheap camera, and I only remember looking at the picture once in my life, that means the memory and the experience itself was that memorable.
So in honor of that awesome bike, here's Daddy Lessons Bites!: Of Bikes And Boys!
Please Check Out My Blog, Daddy Lessons 101!
Stuff For Dads To Think About
1.) A Father Should Always Be The One Who Gives His Son His First Bike. ALWAYS.
This is something I personally believe should be a family tradition in any family. Just like many fathers give their sons their first cars, it should be a father who gives his son his first bike. This should be a father and son bonding moment, something that your son should remember his whole life. While my grandfather was the one who gave me my first bike, I do remember it was my dad who first taught me to ride a bike with no balancing wheels. While me and my dad didn't have many good memories growing up, that was certainly one of the most memorable ones.
2.) Capture The Moment, Anyway You Can.
My grandpa wasn't the one who captured the moment when I first rode my tricycle. It was my grandma. And the photograph wasn't even the first time, it was just a random picture of me on my bike. But the fact is, in some way the memory was captured, and I got to enjoy seeing it at least once in my life. Today's technology makes it easier to date, capture, and most importantly, preserve the memory forever via personal accounts on Youtube or saved on USB drives. Have your wife, partner, anyone be there to capture the moment, from the moment you stepped into the bike store, to them mounting their bike for the first time, to their first ride. Let the story record in your head, as the camera/video cam is recording.
3.) It Should ALWAYS Be A New Bike. Or A Project You Personally Start And Finish.
Not just for safety reasons--rusty handlebars=tetanus, anyone?, a child's first bike should be brand new. Just like how we love anything new, from the smell of new leather to the scent of fresh laundry, any child would love a new toy. If the budget simply isn't there, buy a used or gently used children's bike, and a can or 2 of paint of your child's favorite color. (And shame on you if you don't know!) which would run you a good $10-$20 bucks, and personalize the bike.Also, don't forget to take it to a bike mechanic.Because that "sweet deal" may cost your little one an accident, and we wouldn't want that now, would we? Try to find a reputable bike shop. I've had some negative experiences using bike shops and mechanics from big box chain stores like Canadian Tire or WalMart. I'd go with the small, independent bike shops. Sure, they cost more money, but they are usually run by experienced mechanics, not teenagers working a part-time job. But make sure that the cost of the repair doesn't cost more than the actual bike! If that's the case, you're better off buying a new one.
Some dads like to start project cars, building them from scratch and restoring them to their former glory. A costly hobby. I have an uncle who does the same for Tour De France-style bikes, spending thousands. So why not one for your son? In fact, if you're considering it, document the process. Make it a lasting memory. And when he/she gets older, you can give him/her the scrapbook of memories.
4.) It's Not The Superbowl.
A child riding his/her bike for the first time is not a competition or tryout of any sort. Don't rush your child into biking harder, faster, stronger. You're creating a fond memory fueled by a father's love for his child, not athletic excellence driven by the desire to win. If you find yourself yelling "NO NO NO BUDDY YOU HAVE TO STEER CLOSER! BEND YOUR BACK!" and thinking about aerodynamics, STOP. Instead, say encouraging words, like "Oh you're doing amazing son! Keep going!" Give him or her a thumbs up and an approving smile when he/she looks back. That'll do wonders for his/her self-esteem. Trust me. If anything, it will make them happy, if nothing else. And isn't the point of giving them the gift of independence--a bike--all about making them happy? If their happiness isn't your intention (We've all heard of fathers buying their sons hockey sticks with the backhanded intention of attempting to create a future Sidney Crosby) and you have some backhanded intentions of turning your child into something YOU want them to be WITHOUT their intent (or at least their liking) then you should stop. I'll talk about that in another Hub.
5.) Make The Moment Perfect--End On A Sweet Spot.
You ever see those fast food commercials where the kids go to a pizza place or a McDonald's to celebrate a winning game? Well, there's a reason those commercials worked. That's because a treat is always more appreciated and welcomed after a job well done. Work hard, and you get more money for us in the adult world. Heck, even dogs know that the work in bringing back that ball will often result in a tasty snack.
The same goes for children. As parents, we usually use the "reward system" where good behavior warrants a reward, and bad behavior warrants punishment, to help young children understand the difference between bad and good. But in this scenario, even if your child crashes that new bike against a tree and dents the body, the first time experience shouldn't end with punishment. That will just ruin all the good vibes the experience brought and may even ruin the memories for them.
When they're done biking for the first time, always offer them a reward for a job well done, because riding a bike is his/her first step towards independence, and, well, it's not easy riding a bike for the first time either. Remember how YOU felt when you rode your first bike. I know it's not easy remembering something from so long ago, but try. Did you have fun? Or were you mortified? Use your past experiences and try to make it BETTER for your child. Remember, each generation should always be better than the next, and its your job to make the experience of riding a bike better than yours was.
How? Simple details, like congratulating them or offering them a glass of their favorite juice, a cookie, etc. That way, he/she will always remember "when I rode my first bike, daddy had a nice treat for me!". The little things mean the most to our little guys and gals.
My Eldest's 1st Bike Ride On His Own!
This small video captures the essence of everything I wrote about. He seems happy right? And to make the deal better, we went to Wendy's after. But that was pretty much because the rain started coming down hard.