About a year ago I was very nearly banned from my local library. This is a new one for me, an all time low. I’ve been banned from pubs before; I’ve even been banned from a school rugby field, but never from a library. On reflection the librarian probably did have a point. However, there were no signs stating that a grown man couldn’t ride a child’s trike inside the library.
Let me explain. When I was growing up my father was very strict. Partly due to the fact that there were so many of us; I have four brothers, and partly due to the fact that he was just that type of bloke. He wasn’t someone who messed about; he was a serious man. Quite how he managed to produce me, the complete opposite, is a mystery. You see, I enjoy mischief. In fact, it’s my raison d’etre.
As a result of my Dickensian upbringing, I promised myself that if I ever had children I would fool about with them. So, when one day, my then two year old son asked me if he could ride his trike to the library, it was music to my ears. There was an opportunity here for some fun and my inner devil simply couldn’t resist the temptation.
Initially it was just a straightforward father and son scenario – me pushing him along the pavement towards the library. However, it is the very straightforwardness of it all that put me into the danger zone. I’m not good at mediocrity; I always look to spice things up a bit. I can’t help it. So as we went along the pavement, I suggested that I sat on the trike and he push me. I can still picture the sheer delight on his little face. He immediately burst out laughing and continued to laugh, as I dramatically attempted to sit on his trike. Like me, he could obviously appreciate the visual humour and the physical absurdity of the scene.
The trike in question was one of those really simple old fashioned wooden affairs and I could just about manage to sit on it. With my knees literally up by my chin and his little hands on my back pushing with all his might, we slowly crawled along the pavement until we reached the library – both of us roaring with laughter the whole way. At this point I should have got off the trike, but to be honest I couldn’t; I was stuck. Once you get yourself into such a tight crunch, it’s not that easy to get up again, so I went into the library and rode around the aisles.
It wasn't long before 'the beard and sandals' came over and gave me the 'look'. Although she was quite polite about it! I needed a quick exit but I had gone down a one way aisle. What followed was a test of patience for the librarian and a test of my poker face - she won that one. I couldn't get up off the trike so I had to carry out a three point turn. Except the turning circle on a trike isn't very generous so the manoeuvre turned into an Austin Powers moment with me going backwards and forwards over and over again until I finally managed to get the trike pointing in the right direction. Throughout this whole episode I'm afraid I was giggling uncontrollably, which didn't go down well with the librarian. My son however, loved it.
A few weeks later I was telling one of my brothers the story and he said to me: “can you ever imagine Dad doing this with us, when we were kids?” No, absolutely not. And that’s the point – as a child I would have loved it if he had. My son was having a wonderful time and so was I. I didn’t mind letting my guard down. It’s moments like these that create a bond between two people, and these are the very foundations of a great relationship. That’s something I’m very much looking forward to with my children.