Ever wished you could take your words back? This dad knows the feeling.
I was deep into my second snooze – until I felt my 3-year-old son tugging frantically on my limp arm. ‘Dad, I want to ride my bicycle.’
Oh yes, today was the day. I had promised Aqeel we would test out his new bike, a gift from his gran. Truth is, I was probably as excited as him. Teaching your kid how to ride a bike is one of those time-honoured father-son traditions, right up there with shaving, driving and learning how to operate the remote control.
I pulled on a pair of shorts, grabbed a T-shirt and proceeded to the bathroom
. A single command stopped me dead. ‘No Dad, brush teeth later.’
I didn’t argue. Of course I could understand Aqeel’s excitement. I remembered how I felt when I got my first bike as a kid, how I felt when I got my first anything come to think of it. The world suddenly became extremely small – nothing mattered but getting to use (and abuse) that new gift.
After all, you only get one first time at anything. Think about your first bike, your first car
, your first date. Hopefully, only the first two took you for a ride, but you know what I mean – the first time is special.Why did I say that?
So, knowing this, perhaps you can tell me why I acted like Scrooge with a sore neck when Aqeel struggled to get going on his bike. ‘I can’t do it. I can’t,’ he said, the frustration painted on his scrunched-up face as he battled to get the pedals moving forwards.
‘No, you can. See, see, you’re doing it,’ I said, pushing him. But kids, unlike adults, don’t tolerate lies. ‘No, I’m not. You’re not listening to me, I can’t do it.’ But he could. I knew it.
There were a number of ways I could have handled the situation. I could have suggested we take a break and try again later; I could have continued encouraging him to keep trying; I could have laid on the floor and let him ride over my head. Seriously, anything would have been better than my actual reaction to what was, in my estimation, a lack of effort on his part. ‘Fine,’ I gritted through my teeth. ‘If you don’t want to do it, I’m going to give your bike away.’
I immediately apologised when I saw Aqeel’s hurt and confused look. But I’d said it. The question is why? I think it may have been because my testosterone-fuelled competitive male nature was offended when my son, the fruit of my loins, showed a perceived weakness. Of course he wasn’t being weak, he was just being three
. Or maybe I was frustrated because I thought he was giving up too easily. Or maybe I was worried that my son might be the only kid on the block who couldn’t ride a bike.
Or maybe, I’m just searching for excuses and the truth is that, as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I am an arsehole.
PS: It’s been a while and Aqeel still hasn’t gotten back on his bike – should I be worried?Ridwaan Bawa is the Editor of Men’s Health. Follow him on Twitter @ridwaanbawaEver said the wrong thing to your child and wished you could take it back? Share below or email us at Chatback@parent24.com