On your bike

Toby cycling

As a parent, there’s a temptation to hurry our children on to the next milestone the moment we think they’re ready. This starts early in their lives: skipping a night-time feed, moving from crib to cot to bed, sleep training, crawling and walking, toilet training – the list goes on. In so many respects, it’s we who determine when they’re ready to progress and we support them through the transition.

At other times, however, kids themselves know best.

Where the boys had to be cajoled into toilet training, Kara forced the agenda a good six months earlier – and, sure enough, she was ready. And now, after a summer spent gently encouraging Toby to start trying a bike with stabilisers, he suddenly decided last weekend that it was time to jump straight to riding on two wheels rather than four.

The result? This.

We shouldn’t really have been surprised. Toby is a quietly determined little boy who, when he sets his mind to something, generally masters it quickly and under his own steam. First on three wheels and then on two, on a scooter he’s always had natural grace and balance (that he clearly inherited from someone other than his father). That skill has transferred itself clearly and immediately to a bike, and he was soon pedalling furiously up and down the road in pursuit of Isaac with barely a wobble. We’ll turn him into Mark Cavendish yet.

It just goes to show we needn’t have worried. Having written last week about the importance of giving children the opportunity to fail and to learn from their mistakes without destroying their confidence, here was another example of the importance of not smothering Toby with fear and giving him the opportunity to prove himself on his own terms.

From the beaming smile on his face every time he rode past us with growing speed and confidence, I’d say he was quite pleased too.