Dad slips up
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 @ridwaanbawa

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