Anatomy of a Sunday (or Why I am Bothered by Smug Bikers.)

If Sunday nights were the low points of my youth (school again tomorrow? really?), they have been quickly replaced by Sunday mornings (what on earth am I supposed to do with these children all day and why does every other family seem to be having more fun than mine?).

This morning was no exception. We spent several hours prepping the bicycles for an outing. It seems that the movers had let the air out of all the tires, either that or the bikes were trying to tell us something: DON’T RIDE US. THERE WILL BE ZERO FUN INVOLVED. YOU WILL COME TO HATE YOUR CHILDREN.

The major problem with bike riding for us at the moment is Francie. I fear she may turn 40 and still be on those effing training wheels. She walked out of the garage this morning and saw this:


Immediately she doubled over in pain.

“I think it’s my stomach. Maybe even my appendix.”

To be honest, the sight of my bike in prep mode sends me into convulsions as well. I do not particularly love to bike. I’ll admit that this may be because I do not like the way I look in a bike helmet, but I think the whole sport is an ugly one. I know of no other singularly unflattering article of clothing than the bicycle short. And for some reason, all the wrong backsides are squeezed into them. Living in Seattle didn’t help matters. Not only did I get plowed down by a smug biker while stepping out of a yoga class downtown (nothing says ‘namaste’ like being sent twenty feet into the air by some scrawny guy in lycra, a messenger bag and little wire glasses), but I also spent the equivalent of three years sitting behind road hogging bikers on Lake Washington (again, all the wrong bottoms are in bike shorts. I know I’ve said it before but I believe there should be a rule: if you’re going to hold up traffic on your smug little bike, at least have the decency to have a good backside.)

I wanted to tell Francie not to worry. Like any other Sunday, it would be a good two hours before we got our shit together to leave the house. Time was on her side.

And I was right. Once we’d found helmets, sized them, and gotten the bikes ready, everyone decided that because I need to spend most of my Sundays preparing food that nobody will eat, it was time for a snack even thought we had only just finished the third round of breakfast. We then did our famous snack kabuki dance. I made everyone yogurt sundaes, felt momentarily smug about them, and then made a second round minus a different ingredient for each child (no honey for Sid, no granola for Fi, and so on.) While I am not looking, M finished everyone’s rejects:


We fill up water bottles, spend another hour putting the bikes on the car and go.

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have bothered. We hit the Van Cortlandt park bike path. M rode with Fi on the tagalong, Bennett pulled Sid in the trailer (Efram was out for the day and we felt light and springy with only four kids), and I got lumped with Her Lady of the Perpetual Piss and Moan. She road for 15 minutes at snails pace, and then broke down.

“I can’t go any further.”

She will not be convinced otherwise. She has used up what little physical energy she has. In her mind, climbing in and out of the minivan was enough exertion for any day.

I then spent the next 30 minutes trying to get her to ride about 100 feet. I tried everything: cheap compliments (good pedaling!), shame (Fi is going to be riding a bike before you are!) empty threats, (I will leave you here if I have to), begging (you can have that disgusting candy that sprays liquid sugar all over your mouth), and then resorted to tried and true yelling:

“Just pedal the bloody bike!”

Of course, at this moment, I am passed by a family of smug bikers. The mother glares and me, hollering at poor little Francie on her shitty little princess bike. She has cried so much her shirt is soaked through. There is mucous everywhere. She tells me that she hates bike riding and she doesn’t care if she never learns to bike without those effing wheels, and I find myself nodding in agreement. At one point I ride off, hoping that fear motivates her to pedal after me, but it does not work. And because the Bronx is where potholes go to multiply, she hits one and almost tumbles.

“I fell! I fell!” she yelled.

She hasn’t fallen. Rather, she’s just tipped ever so slightly. But at this point we’ve both lost our shit and I’m about to lie down on the bike path in protest when Bennett shows up. And saves the day:


I don’t remember much about the rest of the day, but I have to go anyway. I have to serve dinner that nobody will eat.

I don’t like Sundays.


Filed under children, New York City, parenting, Uncategorized

10 responses to “Anatomy of a Sunday (or Why I am Bothered by Smug Bikers.)

  1. Anonymous

    I got lucky, my cold made my voice sound like I swallowed a frog which earned me most of the day in bed! Sonia didn’t even try to bike, but Dalia made a valiant effort. Maybe we’ll leave the 7 year olds home to cook dinner for all of us when we go biking.

  2. Seems the cool thing in Seattle is to take off the pedals and have the kid go “push bike” for a few months. In this way they learn how to balance. Then stick the pedals back on and takes them five minutes and they can suddenly ride a two wheeler.

    • Yup. My kid had a balance bike first. Took him about 6 months after getting his bike with pedals (and training wheels) to get the hang of it completely, then another couple of months to have the confidence to take the training wheels off. He was 4 1/2 at the time! (Not that I mean to be a smug mummy about this, just saying that the balance bike idea works well. Plus it is a lot easier than trying to ram those training wheels along a bumpy track. Smooth all the way – if necessary round and round a tennis court…)

  3. karen N

    Welcome home LEA!…i can feel -thru your writing.. -that you starting to be settled-: j’ai pisse de rire!!!..merci:-)

    BTW, going thru the same thing with Ben this summer…..lots of whining and “i can’t do it”…but miraculously, after a 2 months break, we tried again..and Hurray! finally he did it!…sorry..,i think it must have been the pressure of the rabbit looking at him from our porch..:-)

    Signed=your smug biker friend ( but not one who holds traffic on LWB- and i Categorically refuse to wear a bike short!!)

  4. RBW

    Alex was the same way – until this weekend. I think seeing his 3-year old cousin on his balance bike finally pushed him over the edge. Either that or the fact that our street is newly paved…

  5. just discovered your blog – great writing. this rang true for me too. our daughter now aged 9 used to grown every time we mentioned a bike ride. Our sundays in Windsor, UK used to be much like you describe here (we have 4 year old twins too). And when we moved to Shanghai they didn’t improve. She rode more slowly than was physically possible without falling off, stopped every 2 minutes for an outfit change, drink of water, snack, itch. In April it was her birthday and we planned to get her a new bike to replace the heavy, far too small hand me down she’d been riding for 3 years. In September this year we finally got round to buying it for her. And.. surprise surprise she now cycles like a normal person…. so that i can no longer keep up. And she even objected the other day when we almost had to take a taxi to hebrew school rather than cycle. Feel guilty every time i see her on it now.

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