Parents Hiring ‘Experts’ To Teach Their Kids How To Ride A Bike

A childhood rite of passage? Learning to ride a bike. For me, it happened quite easily, which is actually kind of shocking since I lack coordination. My brother, 14 months older than me, couldn’t stand the fact that his little sister had mastered the bike before him. So he woke up early one morning, sneaked out of the house and taught himself how to ride in an empty parking lot as our parents slept (oh, to be free-range before it was trendy).

Now my 5-year-old is beginning to get comfortable on a bike, and I long for the day when we can remove his training wheels and let him roam free. I tell this to my girlfriends, many of them with kids slightly older than mine, and they simply say, “Yeah, good luck with that.” Then, in hushed tones, they reveal the truth: “I’ve hired someone to teach my kid to ride.”

You read that right. There are now a slew of companies that, for a hefty fee, will teach your child how to ride a bike. Parents can enroll their kid in a week-long “bike camp” Pedalheads, for example, operates at eight levels and takes kids as young as two or opt for private bike-riding lessons instead.

This will shock and anger some parents teaching your child to ride is one of those great bonding moments, they’ll argue but those who have used the service swear by it. “We bond in other ways,” one friend says matter-of-factly. Another is a full-time working mom who, frankly, doesn’t have the time or inclination: “I’m done throwing out my back as a hunch over and run down the street holding onto the seat,” she tells me. “Plus, I think my nervousness is rubbing off on her.”

She does make a valid point. The truth is, I have my husband handle the bike-riding lessons around here because the one time I tried, my son threw a dramatic, Academy Award-winning performance about how difficult it was, and how he was hungry and tired and needed to go to the bathroom. Many tantrums ensued. He doesn’t pull this kind of crap with my husband (which is a whole other story in and of itself). But, then again, my husband doesn’t give off any nervous vibes the way I (unintentionally) do. Kids pick up on these things.

What I find so amusing isn’t so much that these bike-riding programs exist in the first place, but the fact that most moms I know are embarrassed mortified, actually to admit they’re using them. I guess there’s still that old stigma that learning to ride a bike is one of those sacred parent-child experiences.

(Photo: George Doyle)

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