We have been trying to get the just turned 5 year old on his bike. While his friends are starting to master their bikes without stabilisers, our lovely boy has not yet mastered how to pedal. The combination of a lack of co-ordination and lack of interest is definitely not a winning one. Over the last few weeks I have discovered that teaching a small child how to pedal is not at all easy – my attempts have involved me practically crawling along behind my son, holding his feet onto the pedals whilst I attempt to push them round in the correct direction. Once it looks like he’s got the hang of it, I release my hands and stand up, relieved that the crawling is over, and then look down to see that once again he is doing half a rotation forwards and a full rotation back and actually getting nowhere.
He then announces that he’s all done and ready to get off.
What makes the whole thing more challenging is the fact that he is also stopping to examine the exact make and model of every single car we pass, getting off his bike to do so. Basically, I realise the bike is just getting in the way of his main interest – the cars.
None of this is really a surprise. This boy has always done things very much at his own pace and would much rather be pouring through his atlas or writing out lists than learning how to pedal. Just like he preferred to sit and build towers out of bricks rather than destroy the house when he was a toddler (his brothers, unfortunately, have always opted for the more destructive activities).
Like most of his friends, he got a scooter when he turned 3. However, unlike his friends who would be hurtling round the park at sometimes terrifying speeds, he would do two scoots and then announce he was done (and please could I carry his scooter). His friends all had helmets and for about 30 seconds I felt like a bad mum for not having got him one. And then I watched him scoot at not-quite-walking-pace and realised that a helmet probably wasn’t necessary at this stage.
Two years later, we have got the hang of the scooter. And perhaps that is how long it will take with the bike. But the thing about my eldest boy is this – he does things at his own pace, and he has no interest in following the crowd.
The interests of the other boys at school tend to include either football or Star Wars, whereas my boy’s little head is full of cars, maps and animals of the world. I haven’t attempted to keep him away from Star Wars or football and he is well aware of the popularity of both, but he’s not even keen on seeing what all the fuss is about. Not when he could be reading WhatCar? magazine instead.
Recently I wondered whether, despite never having shown any real interest in football, he might still enjoy going along to classes on a Saturday morning with his friends. I put it to him one day, but you can’t really argue with ‘I’ve told you, mummy, I’m just not interested in football’.
He has, though, thoroughly enjoyed pouring over the flyer.
Don’t bother me with talk of football, mummy, just let me read the flyer in peace.
I feel proud that my little boy knows himself and his interests so well. His interests are more bookish than sporty – perhaps this will change over time, or perhaps he will always prefer studying an atlas to kicking a ball around. And whilst having typically boyish boys (and I have two of these) is challenging in its own way, having a little boy who doesn’t fit the ‘typical boy’ mould brings challenges of a different sort. I have always been someone who is happy around people, so when I see his friends all kicking a ball around or chasing around the park, my instinct tells me he should be joining in. I have to remind myself that he feels confident and secure when pottering about pursuing his own interests and does it really matter if they don’t match the interests of most of the other boys? He doesn’t seem to feel the need to be doing things just because everyone else is, and perhaps when he’s entering the teenage years this is something I’ll be grateful for.
We’ll persevere with the bike, but I don’t think he’ll be going particularly far any time soon. But if anyone fancies challenging him to a game of ‘let’s write out all the Vauxhall cars we can think of’, he’d be in his element.
That’s my boy.
And I promise I won’t mention the football again.