Learning to ride: Falling off and getting right back on

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This is the second post of three outtakes from Volume 8 of the quarterly Taking the Lane series, Childhood. (Read the first one here and the third here). This story is by Lisa Hassan Scott.

When I was in the depths of postnatal depression I can remember thinking that I had no positive memories of my own childhood. Finding those memories again was one of the first signs that I was getting well. The first is one that I treasure: the day my father taught me to ride a bike.

In 1981 on a hot summer’s day in flat Ohio, I pulled my red bike with tassels on the handlebars and long banana seat onto the driveway. My dad, in his jogging shorts, headband wrapped around his massive afro and red terrycloth wristbands held the seat as I rode. He jogged and shouted encouragement in his broken English; I pushed each pedal down and tried to balance.

Suddenly, he was clapping his hands. How could he clap, I wondered, if he was holding on? I looked, and he smiled. I was riding on my own! A laugh bubbled up from my chest and I felt the balance and speed of riding a bike without help, without training wheels, without hindrance. I wobbled and fell.

My dad ran up and said I should try again. I can still remember his smile and my joyful yes-I-did-it feeling.

What will my children remember of their childhoods? Today I hold in my hand that fear of giving my children bad memories and I look at it carefully. My parents made plenty of mistakes, but rather than being irreparably harmed by them, I have learned from them. Making mistakes is not unforgivable. It is human. We fall off our bikes, and we get right back up again and pedal on.

Lisa Hassan Scott is mother to three energetic children ages 3, 6 and 9. An American living in Great Britain for seventeen years, Lisa is married to a Scotsman, is a Yoga teacher, and enjoys cycling holidays in France. She blogs about parenting and the mind