It was December 2012. A few days before Christmas. My husband accepted redundancy from his workplace and was yet to start another job. He had all this time and wanted to spend it teaching his son how to ride a bike without training wheels.
This was a father and son project. I was working at the time.
“It only took an afternoon,” he recollects.
Years later I ask my teenage son if he remembers that summer spent with his dad trying to learn how to ride a bike.
“Yeah,” he responds.
“What do you remember about it?”
“Falling. A lot.”
“Were you scared?”
Why would he be when he had his dad with him. I think my husband was slightly disappointed it took so little time to teach our boy. He must have hoped to spend more of the summer helping his son how to ride a bike.
My husband is a “hands on” dad who adores our boy.
We are a good team. On rough days he will step in when I am tired or I will jump in when I can hear his frustration. Years ago, he would spend entire evenings on the floor with his hand through the cot, patting our baby son to sleep when he could not settle.
My mother graded his fathering skills a long time ago.
“You are an A+ father,” she said. Coming from a woman with exacting standards, this was high praise indeed.
I often wonder what we are teaching our boy. Our son once said his dad was the stern and gruff one, and I was the fun and crazy one.
In his Year Six project – a memoir of his young life – our boy wrote:
So far the most influential person in my life has been my dad. He packs my lunch every morning. He gives me pocket money. And he is funny. My mum is influential too. She is annoying and daggy. But she does teach me things and I can talk to her about things.My weird and wonderful life, T. aged 12
His acknowledgement at the front of the project said:
Thank you mum for helping me out during the tough times and dad for keeping me going all the way.
I’m satisfied with that.