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.