Monday, January 17, 2011

As easy as falling off a bike?

Do you remember when you first learnt to ride a bike, there were two wheels either side of the back wheel to give you extra stability and reassurance so you could learn how to cycle without falling off all the time, until of course that time came when you were deemed old enough by your parents to do it by yourself and off came the extra wheels, away went any feeling of confidence and you were incapable of cycling anywhere without a parent attached to the back of the saddle preventing you falling off...

I have various memories of this, I remember my own dad holding tight (or so I thought) onto the back of my bike as I pedaled along Gunners Lane, him shouting 'I've got you, I've got you,' lying through his teeth as it turned out he'd already let go...and then of course I have the memories of teaching both of my children to learn to ride.
The clever Germans have gotten around this whole stabilisers/attached parent malarkey with the 'laufrad'*. Kids here seem to get one of these pretty much as soon as they can walk, and then they learn to balance themselves on two wheels and to steer although not necessarily how to stop, this makes the transition to a bike with pedals pretty painless for all parties - we witnessed our neighbour's little girl who has an older brother as a role model, take on his castoff laufrad as soon as she was old enough to reach the floor from the saddle and now at the age of 4 she is happily pedaling up and down in front of the house terrorising all motorists who dare to try to come past. No stabilisers ever needed.

In our house whenever there is a technical problem Simon is the person who is shouted for (unless he's in China/Finland/London) in fact the problem doesn't have to be in our house, his parents have always made free use of Si's technological know how. When we lived in England and we would be invited over for Sunday lunch Si would invariably spend half the time ensconced in the back bedroom (actually it's at the front of the house, but you know what I mean) fixing some problem that had cropped up with the computer/internet/printer. They can't have been pleased when we moved to Germany, not only were we removing their son and heir from easy access and their grandchildren but their technical help desk was relocating...

I should be impressed that it's taken almost 4 years for their system to hit meltdown, but boy when the sh*t hit the fan there was a big splatter zone.
The outlaws were here over New Year and Linda in a panicked call to the help desk (aka Simon) before the visit had had to turn it all off NOW and leave it alone, a virus had got in and was doing nasties. During their visit there were several little huddled discussions about the problems awaiting them back in England and this weekend after a couple of very long phone calls the issues seem to have been resolved.

Si thinks the computer problem isn't helped by the fact that sometimes windows pop up asking whether something should be updated/installed etc. and maybe just clicking to accept isn't a wise move. Si's way round this is to set up both his parents as users on their computer and revoke their Admin rights, not that they can't do the admin thing on their own computer, it's just now you have to be specifically logged in as the Admin in order to say yes to updating/installing anything, so hopefully this logging out and then logging in will be sufficient to make them think 'is this right? Shall I check first?' before merrily clicking the yes button to any little asylum seeking bug.

Ben thinks this is hysterical as he has recently had his Admin stabiliser wheels taken off (because Simon got fed up of Ben calling him at work (no matter what country he was in, no time zone gives safe haven from a frustrated teen) to ask him if he could do xyz on his computer) it has to be said though that Ben will soon overtake Simon in his technological capability, I updated my mobile just before Christmas, Ben took it off me as soon as I'd unboxed it (I wasn't going to let him have that bit of fun) to set it up (fine by me, I get it handed back to me shortly afterwards, in working order and we're both happy) then Christmas day my present from Si was an iPad and again Ben took it and set it up, now I'm not saying that I couldn't have done this but why not let him have the fun of doing it, he'll do it so much quicker than I would and they (the male of the species) need to feel useful don't they?!
So Ben is now crowing that Nanny and Grandpa have had to have their stabilisers put back on while he's cycling off into the sunset waving both hands in the air as he zooms away!

* a direct translation would be running wheel, laufen = to run, rad = wheel

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