Friday, March 03, 2006

Boys on Bikes

The boys have learnt how to ride the bicycle!!

Many kids in our compound have bicycles. So it was only natural that Ilham and Ihsan wanted one. We told Ilham that the pre-requisite for getting a bicycle was to score 15/15 in his weekly Math test. He agreed to the terms and conditions, but that didn’t stop him from borrowing other people’s bikes before he got one of his own.
Hyun Bin lent him his mother’s bike a few months ago and Ilham had been practicing on it. Hyun Bin is a Korean and he is 8. When Hyun Bin took the bike away so that it could be fixed up for sale, Ilham used Asseem’s bike instead. Asseem is Egyptian and he is 5.
I told Hyun Bin that if they intended to sell the bike, I’d be interested in buying it.

A few weeks ago, Ilham came home beaming and showed us his Math test paper, with a score of 15/15. We told him how proud of him we were and I called up Hyun Bin’s mom and started negotiating the price for her bike. She also offered another smaller bike, and had wanted SR140 for both, but after much haggling and sweet talking, I managed to bring the price down to SR120 (yay me!). I gave the money to Taufik, and he and the boys went to pick up the bikes (it was just 5 houses away). The next day, Taufik went and bought knee, elbow and palm pads.
After a few days, Ilham was already confidently zipping about on the short lane in front of our house. At first he had problems with cornering, but it didn’t take him long to pick up the skill. We were so proud of him.
Next was Ihsan. The smaller bike was actually too short for him, but it didn’t stop him from trying. At first he just sat and pushed the bike with his legs and ‘cruised’ around with his feet up and akimbo, without cycling, but yesterday after a few tries, I saw him actually cycle! He is yet to master cornering though :).
We also taught them safety rules: always look behind you before making a turn, to make sure there are no cars coming, don't ride in a zig-zag way, look both ways before crossing the road. if you feel like falling over just put both of your feet down and don't leave your bicycles lying around haphazardly.
Alhamdulillah, there has been no mishaps yet, only a few scratches here and there, but that is normal..

This reminds me of how I learned to ride my bike. My dad had bought a red chopper for my KakLong and a blue and silver bicycle with training wheels for the rest of us to share. I rode the bike with the training wheels at first, and then I got bored and took my dad's adjustable spanner and loosened the nuts on one of the training wheels and lifted it up. I rode around our house (we lived in a bungalow then) for a few days like that and then decided to lift both of the training wheels.
Like my kids, I always fell when I tried to make sharp corners, but the sense of achievement of being able to balance yourslef in two wheels was so very exciting.
I got better with practice, of course, but I never quite gained the full confidence for riding a bicycle, because of an incident that happened the first time I tried to ride my bike to school.
From my primary school to get to my house, I needed to go down this very steep hill by a secondary school. I remember standing on top of that hill with my friend Lynn with our bikes balanced in between our legs, looking down at the flat part of the road at the bottom of that hill. Lynn, (who is probably my most long-time friend since I've known her since Standard 4 and is still friends with her till now), tried to encourage me by saying how easy it was and that it wasnt as scary as it looks and she said the same thing I say to my kids now: "If you feel like falling over, just put your feet down".
So I said Let's go or something to that effect and we whooshed down the really steep hill. I felt like I was moving faster than I had expected to and like the bottom of the hill was never going to come. It was very thrilling yet also very scary.
We did finally reach the bottom of the hill, but I didnt stop! I remember going "aaaarrrrghhhhhhhhhhhhh!!" or prolly more like "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkk!!!!" and I hit this patch of gravel and my bicycle turned sideways and Lynn screamed "Berhenti Berhenti!! Letak kaki!!" (Stop, Stop, put your feet down!), and god knows I tried but it wasnt fast enough or what, so I fell on my side. I felt the warm gravel scraping my elbows and cheeks. I got grazed pretty badly I think, though I don't have any of the scars to prove it.
Ever since then, I had always had problems stopping when riding a bike. Somehow, when I am forced to stop or is just about to fall over for some reason, I can never get my feet down fast enough. I almost fell in a paddy field because of that once. Taufik and I went to ride bicycles in the paddy field behind his house, and there was a motorcycle coming the other way on the narrow batas (lane?) and I remember trying to stop but just went "ops ops ops ops..!" and fell over instead. The guy on the motorbike laughed at me. cess.. kurang asam..

I think being able to ride the bike has given the boys a kind of confidence that you can only get from learning to ride the bike yourself. There's some kind of hidden spark in them, a tiny gleam in their eyes, they seem to walk a little taller, and I can see almost like a glow in their faces when they are riding their bikes around the compound.

Side Note though:
Ilham did not get 15/15 for the next Math Test he took, so we had to make another agreement. For every question that he gets wrong, it will translate into one day of the bicycle sitting in the store room instead of outside. So for him to be able to get to ride his bike every day, he would have to get 15/15 every week.
I think that's fair, is it not?

No comments:

Post a Comment