My sister, Georginia, just learnt how to ride a bicycle. I will tell you how it happened.
I visited my family in our home in one of the suburbs of Lagos. We only moved here in 2014, when mey mother believed we were ready for a fresh start from living in one of the busiest Lagos urban area that also left my mother without her first daughter.
My brother had had an accident one afternoon while travelling to an outstation with his high-frame bicycle. It was a Near Death Experience (NDE) according to him. The only proof for us was that his bicycle was terribly mangled and a friend of my father in their meeting at Church had helped him convey it to our house.
I would be told of the need for a bicycle for my siblings. I could barely afford one for all of them then. So I decided to do the obvious: get two bicycles for the house – a small one for the youngest child and say George and a big one for the older ones – and motivate them to learn to ride and then they can ask big brother for personal rides or not. They could still share the bicycles afterwards.
Jude and Maria would tell me of the success of Georginia, and how through sheer perseverance, hard work and several bruises on sides, stomach, knees and all ten toes, George would steady her hands on the frames and with her firm legs on the pedals tell the bicycle where to go, and it always obeyed.
‘Each evening’, Jude and Maria recounted, ‘George will take the bicycle to the winding road of the Government Reserved Area near the house. She would have step on the pedal and try to move the bike. It never always really worked without her falling. Her next try would be doing downhill to learn control. This injured her more as she had to understand the physics of this through hard falls and skinned knees & toes and bruised sides and injured stomach.’
‘Other evenings, she would beg Jude to join her so he will help her learn faster without hurting herself much.’
That night while she slept, my mother and siblings asked me to see for myself.
Her toes and knees were really in bad shapes. Dark from the healing the wound was doing but still left scars enough to note to the time I write this piece.
I was still a Thomas
George may have shown them what she can do. I was not satisfied. I wanted to see for myself. So I’d ask her to join me for a ride that evening. She gracefully obliged. My father came with us too.
My mother would hear the news later. She chose to ‘look after the house’.
When George rolled out the bicycle, there was something about the confidence that made me conclude even before she mounted on that iron horse that she was a pro already. I needed no more proof. I still had to enjoy the finesse with which she powered the bike, the dexterity of her turns and the adroitness of her halt.
I was astounded. My father? He was too. My sister did one better. She rode the high-framed bicycle (now repaired) that belonged to Jude with only the tip of her toes, yet did several turns and over two kilometer distance. That was where I got this shot of my father.
While she rode that bike and I watched in awe how awesome and natural she was. I knew I’d someday tell of her exploits on this personal journey for her and lesson for my entire family.
When there is a will
This is already a cliché right? My mother will recount how George will do the dishes, attend to her homework in record time and still have time to practice with the bicycle. Several times she tried stopping her, that she was a little too hard on herself. Yet, the next day she would be ready to do it again.
I believe it is okay sometimes to cry and roll on the floor or shout into the air in a free space or somewhere close to one. It is however not okay to dwell on the fall or the tears. George could have stopped when the injuries were becoming more or would decide after each fall to go home. She did not.
Be an expert
After George had learnt the skill of balance and pedaling. She did not stop ther. Each day for the next one month before my visit and for a fortnight after my visit and every other time I now visit, George would take the bicycle out to sharpen her skill. She knows she could ride now, somehow even though she is a little over ten, she still believes she needs more practice. She says she needs practice to be an expert. Like Jude.
It is okay to show off your knowledge. George was keen on not just riding a bike but showing me that with dedication and commitment she can do anything, be anything , learn anything, and when she does she is allowed to showoff how good she really is.
Try eating a bigger frog
It was Brian Tracy who wrote a book on Eating Frogs. He did not say to do that literally. You may need to read the book here. George would try for the first-time a bigger frog, a high-framed bicycle and she was great at it. Only that of course she needs to grow a little taller too.
Do you have any other lesson you learnt from Georginia’s sojourn. I will like to read them in the comment section.