I'm coming to terms with a shocking change in Bobby right now. There he was, a confirmed coach potato, scoring 'could do better' on his Change 4 Life profile. The Nintendo DS was timed so that he had some sort of life outside Mario. Occasionally we'd take him for a walk and he'd moan that his legs were tired after about six seconds. This was the Bobby I knew.
Then he gets Mario and Sonic at the Olympics on his Nintendo DS. Out of the blue, it's cool to be sporty! This was brilliant, I thought, slightly unnerved by my son's new-found interest in basketball. It became no trouble at all to get Bobby to walk, even run. Good old Nintendo, I thought. Who says that modern obsessions are a bad thing? There's no influence like Mario...and Mario's made Bobby sporty.
Then came Bike to School week. I quite liked the idea of a gentle cycle to school, with me doing a fast walk by Bobby's side, breathing in the early morning fresh air. This would be good for both of us. This would be a great start to the day.
"Bob, get your shoes on. Bob, eat your breakfast. Bob, have you done your teeth yet?" All of a sudden, a 90-minute morning schedule is squeezed into 60 mins of constant nagging, with Bob announcing (truthfully) that he needs 'to learn time management'. Reading The Beano in his underwear, he adopts his usual Louis Armstrong approach (We Have All The Time in the World). Meanwhile, I have to get Alec ready double quick too and poor old Alec takes at least 15 minutes to boot up.
Finally, we're out the door for 8am. This is not a leisurely bike ride. For a start, his stabilizers have a habit of getting stuck in pot holes. Secondly, he only looks out for cars on the road, not for ones backing out of their drives. Thirdly, whenever he speeds up, I'm having to jog alongside him carrying his school bag and my handbag, looking like a prize-winning lemon. Every time he hits a hill he sort of gives up and I have to push him up it.
Finally, we arrive in school. He doesn't boast about it, in fact he hides behind me when I tell the headmaster. He will win a raffle ticket for this. What I'd really like to say is that I need a prize too. Also, since when is pushing your scooter a couple of yards anything akin to driving a bike 1.8 miles? "They shouldn't get a raffle ticket for that," I frown at Gavin, with him laughing his head off at my ability to make Riding to School Week into a political debate.
It's Friday, and I'm trying to put Bobby off riding to school because it looks like rain. "Nevermind you can use an umbrella," he suggests sympathetically. We leave slightly later and take a short cut. All is going well until we reach the village and it's evident that Bobby's stabilizers aren't just stabilizing him, they're slowing him down. He can't get up speed as they're acting as a brake. This is all the ammo I need to persuade him he can do without them.
I try to suggest that we lock the bike in the village and walk the rest of the way to school. Bob doesn't bother with the run-up to a tantrum these days, he takes the shortcut and makes like a starfish on the pavement. "Ok, we won't walk to school." I pick the bike up and he cheers immediately. We head off again, me pushing him for extra speed. By this time I'm feeling pretty over-heated and am quite glad for some cooling rain, which quickly turns into a heavy shower. Bobby needs to know how many minutes until the school bell goes. I don't want to worry him, but it's 5 mins away.
I am just envisioning what it'd be like to have a glass of wine at 9am when Gavin rolls up in his car and offers me a lift back home. By this time it's pouring. Joy! We arrive at school just in time and I haven't even the energy to tell anyone that we both deserve medals, let alone raffle tickets.
"I want to run to school next week!" says Bob.
Any more of this, and he's for the high jump.