My bicycle wish [Day 6 of Thankfulness]

by - Wednesday, January 06, 2016

currently: listening to 'Ocean Avenue' by Yellowcard


Day 6: My bicycle wish
My parents never bought me a bicycle as a kid.

The photo above is of me, from a trip my family took to Malaysia when I was 8. I'm at my aunt's house, sitting on my cousin's bicycle which still had the training wheels on. I remember my mum taking the photo, telling me she was going to crop out the training wheels so it "looked" like I was riding a two-wheeler. The look on my face clearly says otherwise.

My parents, immigrants from Malaysia, came to New Zealand the year before I was born. And like many immigrants, they didn't come to this country with a lot. My young life was spent dressing in my cousins' hand-me-downs and playing with reams of paper leftover from office fax machines.

A bicycle was on top of my wishlist for years but my parents always told me it was too expensive. I dreamed to be like the kids I watched competing in the Kiwi Kids Weetbix Triathlons on TV, or cycling with their friends to and from home. It was embarrassing that I couldn't be one like them. Many of my friends had no idea I didn't know how to ride a proper bicycle as I spent my primary school life strategically trying to avoid any form of cycling activity.

Eventually my parents agreed to get me a bicycle, but on one condition: get a distinction grade in my violin exam.

I sat my first (and only) ever violin exam for grade 2 back in 2000. Which would have made me about 9 years old at the time - an age where it actually mattered to have certain things so you could be cool and fit in with the other kids.

I was nervous as anything because one - I had barely performed my violin in front of other people, let alone for a violin grade exam; and two - because my future bicycle was at stake.

And to be honest, I don't remember much from the exams other than being frightened out of my mind and being awful at sightreading. How well can you pick up a song just by spending five minutes looking at a music sheet? Really badly in my case.

I got my results back a few weeks later and found out I only managed to pass my exam with a 'merit' level. I scraped in with a score of 120/150, but was still 10 points shy of my distinction level. Goodbye bicycle.

I was disappointed. I used to think that my parents had gotten off lucky by not needing to keep their end of the bargain, and eventually I did lose interest in bicycles (when I realised I could learn to drive a car instead). But more than 10 years on, I understand now that my parents didn't want me to just 'get' a bike. They wanted me to know what it is to work hard and be rewarded for hard work. They were doing the same thing working hard and living in this foreign country to give my younger sister and I the education and lifestyle they never got to have.

Also I may not have had a bike or a lavish childhood like other kids my age, but how many parents would buy their 7 year old daughter a violin? Sorry Mum and Dad that I never completed grade 8 in violin like I said I would. But I got distinction grades in other things at least, ironically in computers and writing which proves to be really useful now.

I'm now old enough and earn enough to buy my own bicycle if I wanted to. But I don't think I would have understood what it means to earn for myself if my parents didn't teach me about working hard in everything I do. I have so much to thank them for that one blog post wouldn't do justice. But I hope I do make them proud each and every day.

Happy anniversary mum and dad.

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For the month of January 2016, I'm writing 31 personal stories about things in my life I'm thankful for. See all my posts during my month of thankfulness here.

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