We Paid Someone To Teach Our Daughter How To Ride A Bike

ride a bikeA great thing happened this summer. My daughter called me from her father’s and announced, “I can ride a bike!”

Yes, my daughter is now almost nine years old and has FINALLY learned to ride a bike. Neither her father nor I taught her how to. In this day and age, when you can pay people to do pretty much anything, bike riding is no exception. There is, in fact, a day camp for people like me and her dad called Pedalheads that promises to teach your child how to ride a bike in five days (of course they practice all morning.) But because my daughter was in art camp the week her father had her, he hired a counselor from the camp to teach her in the early evening.

Yes, my daughter had private bike-riding lessons. And I was thrilled!

From the ages of four to six, prime bike-riding lesson time, I was a single mother. There was no way I could teach my daughter to ride a bike. Not because I’m not good at riding a bike. I love riding a bike. But I was terrified to imagine her falling off and hurting herself. I was sure that I couldn’t handle it. Her father is the same way. He’s an avid bike rider but there’s no way he was going to teach her. I thought, often, to get the aid of one of my brothers to help, but felt guilty since they have their own busy lives. So, thanks to five hours (one hour each day) of private lessons, she finally knows how to ride a bike. Thank God.

There are two things I think every child should know how to do. Riding a bike is one. And swimming is the other. My daughter loves to swim, and she took those swimming lessons with a number of other children. She sort of got it. But I wasn’t entirely sure she could swim that well. So we hired a lifeguard for a week of private lessons for her too when she was four years old, and she’s been swimming like she’s going to try out for the Olympics ever since. She has no fear of the water.

I remember my father teaching me to drive when I turned 16 in his standard car. It was possibly (next to labor pains) the most traumatic memory of my life. There was a lot of yelling on his end (and he’s a pretty patient person) and a lot of crying on my end (which is what happens when you stall repeatedly in a major intersection and someone is YELLING at you.) When my daughter learns to drive, you can bet your life savings that I will not be the one teaching her.

You can reach this post's author, Rebecca Eckler, on twitter.
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    • Lawcat

      You write to incite some kind of banter from a certain Mom crowd, but it’s truly just exhausting. No one cares that you gave your daughter private bike lessons. Honestly.

      • Luu

        Exactly. You brag too much and it’s pretty boring.

    • Mom

      Congrats on being a half-assed parent.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carmen-Finnigan/841528248 Carmen Finnigan

      It’s your money you do with it as you please. Though kids will learn on their own if they want to.

    • Mamaof2

      As usual, I am left wondering why the author had kids. She is just too materialistic and lazy to really appreciate what being a parent is all about. Perhaps a nice cat would have suited her lifestyle a bit better.

      • DMH

        I wouldn’t even give her a live creature. Perhaps a rock?

    • Lastango

      ???????
      I was riding in about 15 minutes, and so was my sister. I was 5, and sis was 9. My dad taught us both on the same day, at the same time. All he did was steady with one hand, push behind the seat with the other, and let go every once in a while. When we could wobble along on our own for a few yards we were good to go. These were 24″ bikes, and he put wood blocks on the pedals so we could reach. Sis and I thought it was so exciting!

    • Kelly

      What a shock. Eckler is again shuffling off her parenting onto someone else.

    • ele4phant

      I’m confused by some of the backlash here. She’s a priveldged mother (obvisouly – she’s never claimed not to be), and she doesn’t feel she’d adequetly be able to teach her daughter to ride. How is that half-assed parenting?

      How many of you have taught your children to swim? Or did you put them in lessons? Are they in a ballet class, music, or art lessons? Or do you teach them all of that as well?

      I can see if she was saying “We should all pay for lessons for everything!” that people would be angry or feel she was out of touch with the reality for most families. But she’s not. She’s acknowledging that she has the means, and because she does and she doesn’t feel confident teaching the child herself, why is her decision a neglectful one?

      • Ipsedixit

        I don’t think people are really backlashing at paying to teach a kid something, but more at the author. Most people find her insufferable. Her articles are merely to incite some kind of faux controversy. Although I do see a difference in teaching art, music or ballet. Those are specific skills, whereas riding a bike is something that doesn’t require much background. I mean, I wouldn’t pay someone teach my kid something as simple as how to walk just because I have the means.

      • Amy

        This is the last Rebecca Eckler article I will click on. I usually skim them and the comment section for the lolz, but this one seems like it was scrawled in about 5 minutes. If she has given up on her attempt at becoming an adept writer, I have given up trying to read it. I suggest we all stop clicking her headlines and giving her attention.

      • DMH

        Ya know… I wouldn’t put it past Eckler to pay someone to teach her kid how to walk. She’d probably even write an article about it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.wooten Courtney Lynn

        I have to agree with you and I think some people jump on this simply because it IS Eckler. A lot of what she says annoys me, but this isn’t one of them. My mom paid for me to have swimming lessons. A lot of parents do. I don’t see how this is any different. It wasn’t really my parents who taught me to ride a bike, either. I pretty much taught myself. I started with training wheels, then went wheel-less.

      • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.wooten Courtney Lynn

        Yeah, go ahead and vote down. How many have paid for piano or swimming lessons? Thought so. You know I’m right.

      • kathleen

        I would argue that parents pay for piano lessons because they themselves don’t know how to play the piano, or can play but don’t have the pedagogical skills to teach it to others. The same goes for swimming — I couldn’t begin to teach my children specific strokes or techniques because those things are far beyond my own (pathetic) swimming abilities. Riding a bike is pretty basic, though — sit on the seat, push on the pedals, step on the brakes, don’t fall off.

        I would hire someone to teach BMX racing to my child, however…..

      • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.wooten Courtney Lynn

        Aside from it being Eckler, I don’t see why it matters that she paid for bike lessons. Seriously.

    • MommyK

      I knew who this was written by from just the title of the article.

      • Andrea

        ME TOO!!! I didn’t even bother to read it. I just scrolled down the comments. Much better written and more entertaining too.

        Eckler, you write the SAME article every time. Here’s how it goes: “I’m cool and trendy. I don’t do what every other sane parent does. I spend money and pay people to do my parenting for me. I care more about my sleep, my body, and getting laid than I do about my children. I am so cool! My boyfriend finally proposed to me and I said yes even though I wrote that marriage is so 2006. I changed my mind really quickly when I was able to snag a ring!. yay me.”

      • DMH

        Perfectly said!

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    • http://www.facebook.com/houde.veronique Véronique Houde

      Rebecca, I have to say that the day that you suffer from economic difficulties and cannot *gasp* go on a “much-needed” vacation when your child is barely born, can’t pay people to teach your children to do stuff, can’t have all those fancy-shmancy toys, you will be one miserable mommy. Because like you say, you just couldn’t do these things without all those resources! But what I can say is that it is when we are the most limited that we find out our own true strength. Perhaps you would surprise yourself if you actually didn’t give yourself another choice than to teach your kid how to ride a bike, or drive a car. Perhaps, being put in a situation where you couldn’t afford to follow your husband around with you, you would actually not feel the need to leave your kids with their nanny and mother-in-law. Don’t underestimate yourself ;) you’re probably not really that crappy of a mother who cares a whole lot but bocks at every opportunity of being hands on…

    • CrazyForKate

      I’m more concerned about the singing lessons than anything. Your daughter is WAY too young to start voice lessons. Most teachers worth their salt don’t recommend starting until 12 or 13, no matter how talented the child is. I was considered quite young at 11. It is very very easy to cause injury to a young voice. Please make sure your teacher isn’t overburdening your child with material beyond her level (at that age, and for a few years, it should basically be one step above nursery rhymes)!

    • Ipsedixit

      Note to author: people who have *actual* resources, don’t have to continually remind people they have them. New money is so 2006.

      • Andrea

        You win ALL the internet today!

      • K.

        This is the most awesomest comment ever.

    • Cat

      This post is sort of rambling, like it wasn’t edited on a larger scale. However, as a writer, I’m going to say this: We need our stuff published. And controversy publishes. Attitude publishes. So, when I find these kinds of “look at me” posts, I get it, cause I do the same ish at other sites.

      One other thing for mommies (like me) who would rather put disposable income into a trip or something you can do WITH your kids: take the kid to a park that has low, gradual, rolling hills, and send them down the hill a couple times on the bike. They’ll learn, and no owies.

      Im a pussy when it comes to owies too

    • kathleen

      I think all of your columns at least touch upon or reference the fact that much of what the average parent does on his or her own, you hire someone to do. Constantly talking about how much money you spend is a hallmark of the nouveau riche, dear, and it’s really tacky.

      No one really cares that you hired someone to teach your child to ride a bike. We just come here to laugh at your freak show.

      • rebecca eckler

        Actually, I too found it pretty interesting that someone out there thought it was a good idea to have bike riding lessons. As for constantly calling me “rich” or whatever, I just am very smart with my money. I don’t go out and buy designer clothes (I hate shopping) I rarely eat out at fancy restaurants (I rather a burger and fries.) The reason for this post is NOT because I’m flaunting that we paid for private lessons, but more so that there are places like this. I fully admit that I am terrified to see my daughter hurt. Someone else taught her. And she’s happy. My daughter’s happiness is the only thing I care about. As I’m sure most mothers feel the same.

      • Andrea

        No, I’m pretty sure you are bragging. Just like you bragged about taking your step daughter and her friend shopping downtown (after said friend’s father did not want her to spend money that way), about taking a vacation mere weeks after your infant was born (and paying someone to watch him), about hiring someone to do night duty with your baby (so you could get laid) and not breastfeeding (so your boobs would still be attractive to that poor man you finally got to propose to you).

        And before you get a smile about me remembering every dreck you write, it’s not because I think it’s any good but because it’s SO ridiculous, poorly written, and to call you on your BS.

      • kathleen

        You said it before I could….!

      • rebecca eckler

        whatever gets your kicks. I think you need a hobby.

      • DMH

        I think you need a different job.

      • kathleen

        I’m glad you are concerned about your daughter’s happiness. It is unfortunate that this article seems to be more concerned with (once again) how you are different from other parents — often because you pay someone to do a task that most other parents do themselves — than with talking about the idea of paying someone to teach a task that children traditionally learn from their parents or from each other. Mommyish actually posted an article about a year ago that does this very thing, which was more complex and nuanced in its approach. I suppose you were aiming for a first-person rendering of the experience, which might have been more effective if you hadn’t (once again) emphasized that you would prefer to pay for services for your child rather than do them yourself.

        You could be in real trouble if you can’t handle seeing your children get hurt — it’s a part of the maturation process, and it would be a good idea to learn how to cope with it in little ways, like teaching your child to roller skate or ride a bicycle. Parents need to be able to help their children through the painful parts of life.

      • ClintEastwoodsChair

        No one thinks you’re *actually* rich. People that have money don’t have to qualify each lesson as “private.”

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=679049469 Sandra J. Dykes

        What about her safety, Rebecca? If you’re too busy to teach her to ride, are you also too busy to go ride with her? Or do you let her ride alone? What supervision are you offering your daughter while she’s on her bike? You say your daughter’s happiness is all you care about. Has it occurred to you that she might have been happier to have her mother (or father) teach her instead of someone else (presumably a stranger)?

        I could go on, but I’ll stop there. Just keep in mind that bike riding is more than a few lessons – children need supervision while riding. Who is doing that?

        Also, just another thought – you say that you are smart with your money. Yet you’re paying other people to do your job. How smart is that, really? To pay someone to do something you could be doing as you build fond memories that your daughter will have to look back on some day?

        My father taught me to ride my bike. It’s a fond memory, despite the scraped knees! And my (now ex) husband and I taught our kids – My youngest one (#7) had a more difficult time learning than the rest, so all the neighborhood kids helped her and so did her sister. But I was still her teacher. What a fond memory for her as she learned not only from her mother but with the support of all of her friends and her sister, too! And when she finally got it, she was so very happy and proud of herself! You can’t put a price tag on these kinds of memories. They’re just too precious!

      • Not That Rebecca

        Write more about your actual parenting. Things you do with your child. You’re a good enough writer, you just need to try a different persona. You know what I remember from one of your posts, God knows how long ago? You saying that in toilet training your daughter, she went through a phase where she wanted to hug you while she was on the potty. And you did it. I thought “ew” and “I’ve never heard of that” and “good for her for doing it, whatever it takes, right?” I don’t doubt that you love your daughter, despite making parenting choices that I and my circle would never make. But a column about being a mom, and what you bring to that, and what you learn from that, would be a lot more interesting than the current shtick.

      • Andrea

        Oh wow!!! You got her to respond! That’s quite the feat.

    • Serena

      Who cares? Many people can swim but pay for swimming lessons, don’t they? Most people could teach their kids the ABC’s but we pay for nursery school instead. Fwiw I taught my kid sister to ride a bike in less than an hour.

    • Katie

      I am laughing about the fact that bike riding teachers exist, and Rebecca Eckler knew where to source one from.

      It’s this whole, new, useless career that I never knew existed.

      • Serena

        Why is it any more useless than being any other type of teacher? Most people send their kids to swimming lessons even if they know how to swim. Most people send their kids to kindergarten even though we could easily teach counting, coloring, and the alphabet ourselves. Riding a bike is just another skill. Also not all parents know how to ride bikes so they cant teach their kids.

      • Katie

        Because most people can figure out how to ride a bike themselves, It’s not an exact art.

        Some skills, such as swimming, are more technical and require guidance.

        Other skills, like sitting down and moving your legs in a circular motion are not technical and pretty darn easy, therefore usually do not require tuition.

        Swimming and riding a children’s bicycle are not comparable.

    • Please.

      I bet in a few years we’ll get to read all about how Rebecca Eckler sent her kids away to a fancy private boarding school because she needed a break from all the nannies and other people raising her children.

    • Sara

      Eh…..the fact that Eckler hired someone to do what most people would consider a pretty basic aspect of hands-on parenting doesn’t bother me that much. Not how I would do it, but I certainly don’t consider this a big, shocking statement worthy of an entire column.
      I am struck, however, by the consistently terrible quality of her writing. This wouldn’t be such an issue if she were simply an amateur blogger, or if she didn’t make any claims to being a competent writer, but the fact that her bio proclaims her to be a well-known professional author and journalist (and clearly she is, in the sense that somehow, she gets paid for her “work”) means that her writing will be held to a somewhat higher standard. At least, higher than “reads like a ninth-grader who got into her parents’ liquor cabinet and decided to scribble her deepest, darkest confessions in her Hannah Montana diary”.

    • tes

      What. First of all, most kids teach themselves how to ride a bike. They simply get on and keep trying until they stop falling off. The “I’m afraid she’ll hurt herself” is a cop-out. Does anybody really think a child will fall down less if they pay for “private lessons”? I personally think the author just didn’t want to bother with it.

      I know that many parents pay for swimming lessons, but that’s another skill that can be self-taught. A simple trip to a shallow lake with parental supervision is all that’s needed. There’s always time to do these things if one makes the effort!

      Piano lessons are a whole different story because that involves actual talent–much like drawing and singing. Unless you have a family member that can play the piano well, there’s justification in paying someone to give quality lessons.

      But paying for bike-riding lessons (at NINE years old!)? LAME.

    • Mindy

      I’ve never read an Eckler article before. I clicked on the STFU, Parents link and saw the link to this. I clicked it because I cannot figure out how to get my kid to learn to ride her bike and I had no idea you could have other people do it for you! I’m not afraid of her hurting herself, SHE IS. She’s scared and she is almost 8. I’ve tried everything but I’m hoping other kids will eventually shame her into it. I did love the comments on this article. She does indeed sound a bit braggish.

    • Feckler

      It took your kid 5 days to learn how to ride a bike? Forget singing lessons; shell out for developmental disability testing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/MichelleyShell Michelle Adams

        It is horrifying and unacceptable for a parent to out source bike riding lessons but within your moral compass to bash a nine year old’s mental capacity to her mother? Get a grip.

    • Another Steph

      Dear commenters,
      There are controversial bloggers who are fun to read, either because their views might be OTT but they right in a fluid/humourous/etc way, or because they keep their tongue firmly in their cheek, or just because you enjoy that righteous flush of indignation.
      Rebecca Eckler is not one of these.
      Rebecca Eckler is a nasty, arrogant, passive aggressive mean girl. She’s the girl you went to school with who everyone hated but was so intimidating that no one questioned her self-proclaimed ‘Most Popular Girl in School’ title; she’s the girl who used to be a friend but you avoid now because everything she says is a thinly veiled excuse to brag about her perfect life. This may have been passable – bearly – save for one thing. She can’t write, and the few comments that she does leave are littered with grammatical errors.
      How the fuck does someone who can’t write for shit eke out a writing career? I hear you ask. Glad you did. It’s because of us. We are the only reason that Eckler continues to publish this dreck every single week, because I guarentee you, despite all the comments calling for Ecklers dismissal, the Mommyish editors and publishers are rubbing their hands together everytime she uploads something, knowing that the name is going to attract page views and a flurry of comments.
      So let’s just stop posting comments. Let’s just stop allowing those tantalising headlines to bait us. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – to quote The Simpsons, if you ignore it, it will go away.
      Thank you to everyone who made it to the end of my novel.

      • Another Steph

        Son of a diddly, that should be ‘write’ and not ‘right’ in the first sentence.

    • Seriously?

      Are you going to pay someone to lock up your Facebook, too, since you apparently cannot do that yourself?

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    • http://www.facebook.com/al.dunning.7 Al Dunning

      She should have friends in the neighborhood to play with and teach each other things.

      • http://www.facebook.com/al.dunning.7 Al Dunning

        Boy did they do a butcher job of editing this. WHY?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=575744701 Valerie Saenz

      “Who are these super strong and patient parents who don’t freak out at the thought of seeing their kid fall, time and time again?” Right …. Numerous childhood activities could possibly involve a nasty fall. Better to HIRE a STRANGER watch your kid fall. Don’cha’think?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=575744701 Valerie Saenz

        Re-title your story for accuracy: “We paid someone to watch our daughter fall.”

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    • Daddy-O

      “Who are these super strong and patient parents who don’t freak out at the thought of seeing their kid fall, time and time again?”

      Ordinary people who realize that failure and pain are not only part of life, but important life lessons. They aren’t 1%’ers who hire everything out.

    • Fwanga

      Parents today are MORONS. I weep for the future.

    • Ali

      I seem to be in the minority of commentors here, but I think it’s a pretty clever business idea to offer bike riding lessons. Obviously there is a demand for it, or else the lessons would not exist. Also, people take for granted the fact that bike riding is easy, and that anyone can do it, but teaching someone to ride safely, crash avoidance and troubleshooting for potential dangers is a skill that I’m doubtful the average parent has.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003893713212 Facebook User

      Nothing beats doing it yourself as you can see from this video I made of my daughters big day.. http://vimeo.com/64971846

    • Betty

      You taught your daughter to throw up in a toilet???