“The Bike Phenomenon”

I strongly believe that, as someone who is forced to endure whatever the latest toddler fad the neighbours have been obsessed with, I should get a say in whether they are allowed to be bought their own copies of said fad.

They have been through a few fads in their short and chaotic lives: space hoppers, skipping ropes, little green squidgy balls (which probably have a name but I am too old to know what it is). Of the three, the latter caused the most damage to the triplets. It turns out you can really hurl a small squidgy ball in a garden enclosed by walls and fences, and you will probably hit everyone including yourself thanks to the power of physics*.

Bikes have been a popular fad for children basically since time began. They’re right up there with fire, sliced bread and Furby’s. For the triplets however, bikes are literally the most intoxicating and magical things in their existence. We quite often encounter the triplets being herded into their car (which is usually parked outside the front of their garage) while we are either returning to or leaving our own garage. This is because we have a garage full of bikes which are used to go places. It is sort of the primary use for a bike.

The proximity of our bikes to the hell-spawn has resulted in some odd phenomena, ‘the bike phenomenon’.

Stage one of the bike phenomenon begins with slow, quiet jabbering among themselves. This occurs in the early minutes of first seeing the bike and knowing that it is there and that it exists on this mortal plane. Presumably the jabbering aims to inform the others of the change in events, so that they may all move on to the next stages in unison.

Stage two follows once enough primary jabbering has been achieved. By now they all know that there is a real-life bike nearby and it almost certainly exists and is bigger than them. It might even be red. This is where they begin the bike chant: they each start saying the word ‘bike’ quietly and repeatedly, while exchanging looks with one another, and then back to the bike.

Bike, bike, bike

Stage three begins when enough excitement has been generated by the bike chant. This is apparent by the increase in volume of the bike chant. A bike is here, and that is fucking exciting. They are convinced that they have never seen a bike before, despite the fact that they almost certainly see one nearly every week.


The ultimate phase of the bike phenomenon happens when the sheer exhilaration of the bike becomes too much for mere mortals to bear. They simply must be as near as possible to the bike, and/or touch it, to glean its magical powers. As one they will begin to shuffle towards the bike from all directions. This makes it incredibly hard for us to go about our business (opening the garage and stowing the bike away). As they close in their chant morphs into the phrase ‘Big bike. It’s a big bike’, as if they had little to no spatial perception of the dimensions of the bike before they came within close proximity.

Thus, it becomes a race against time to get the bike into the garage, and to shut the door as quickly as possible. The mounting unease which is generated by unison chanting is disconcerting, and frankly, odd. As is their sheer wonder at a bike – which they see a lot. I suppose it’s good for them to be excited by something other than hitting one another, but I can’t help but wonder whether its healthy.


*I would like to mention that at no point did they stop to consider the physics behind that particular situation – they just kept lobbing the squidgy balls at high speeds around the garden while simultaneously crying. Much like the space hoppers, really.


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