Like most urban parents, we indulged Toyna, as a child, with all possible toys that our economic condition allowed. She had a walker even before she could stand and a cycle even before she could run. Over time, some toys got passed on to younger cousins and some piled up in our home. She was gifted a new Ladybird cycle by her grandmother for her 10th birthday. With that the count of children’s cycles in our house went upto four. Toynas grandmother and I conspired to skip one stage of cycle in between and ended up buying this last stage cycle for Toyna. I know Toyna would have been comfortable with the intermediate stage but I really don’t have the space to store one additional cycle in the process.
Though we have had a cycle for Toyna since she was 2 years old, she actually learnt how to cycle independently only during her last summer break. I remember holding her cycle from behind for weeks, as she tried to balance her way on the two wheels. I taught her to sit straight, look ahead and maintain speed. She was extremely frustrated for a long time, not being able to do something which the world around her achieved so effortlessly. She fell a number of times and cried; not because she was hurt but because she was really desperate to make it work.
One day, as I left for work, Toyna sneaked out with her cycle and tried practicing it on her own. She fell, stood up, started again and rode for a while on the hot summer road. She fell again, stood up again, determined to make it work. I believe this happened a few times before I got a call from her, informing me that she had learnt how to cycle on her own. She could even take a U-turn without getting down from the cycle. Hurray!!!
One year later as she unpacked her brand new cycle, I could see her excitement turn into fear. This cycle was too big. Her feet didn’t even touch the ground. What was the use of a cycle which she couldn’t even ride!! Nonetheless, we stepped out on the roads again trying to master this new beast. I taught her how to get on top and get down.. She tried my techniques but didn’t gain too much success. She fell, scratched the cycle, her knees and elbows, but promptly got up again. She cried and wiped out her tears with the back of her arm. She was frustrated. She already knew how to cycle, then how could this cycle refuse to be tamed!?! It wasn’t fair!
After two days of fighting with the cycle, the Ladybird gave in and accepted Toyna as her mistress. Toyna had won another battle!! As she rode around on the street, I could sense the pride in her eyes. She used my technique of getting on top but developed her own technique of getting down. I couldn’t care less. As long as she was comfortable with the cycle, it didn’t matter one bit on how she did it.
At the end of the successful evening, as we pulled the cycle into the basement for parking, Toyna said, “Mama, it took me a long time to learn the first cycle, but this time I learnt it very quickly. I think each new time it becomes easier!” My heart swelled with pride. She had not only learnt how to cycle like an adult but also learnt an important lesson in life. I stopped to give her a hug and say, “The biggest lesson that I have learnt today is that no matter how bad we are at something, if we really want to make it work, we just have to keep trying and never give up!”
We parked the cycle. She left to play with friends and I started working on some extremely difficult problems I have been facing at work. I had given up on some of them, but Toyna taught me to keep trying. Wipe away your tears, forget the bruised ego, stand up and keep trying. It is bound to get easier each passing day.