Unicycles, unicycles, everywhere unicycles

| May 27, 2014

As I continued to post to a facebook thread I had begun regarding my child’s new unicycling class, I realized that the whole situation warranted a blog post.

First I should mention that we recently purchased a unicycle at the town bike bazaar. My husband was there to see if any bike vendors were showing up, but our bazaar turned out to be more of a local swap meet. As we walked around, Paul offhandedly asked me, “Did you see the unicycles over there?”, at which point I nearly leaped over some bikes but then calmly shoved Sequoia through a maze to check them out. After we figured out which of the two child’s unicycles was the size she tried at school (yes, school–more on that in a moment), I took it to the front and purchased it.

Kid with a crazy mother

Kid with a crazy mother

We took it home, unrolled a yoga mat in the driveway, and started figuring out what to do with a kid and a unicycle. We really didn’t know. Eventually we just stuck her by a wall.

Proper unicycling uniform

Proper unicycling uniform

Among the many things I did not expect when moving to Germany: the unicycling phenomenon. The first time we saw a kid unicycling down our street, we thought, Huh, that’s odd.

Apparently that was not odd.

When we first learned that Sequoia was learning to balance on a unicycle during Sport hour at school, I thought that odd, too. But here in Dieburg, kids ride around on some pretty nifty bicycles, tricycles, and unicycles at school.

lisa goodfriend bill dieburg lisa’s pics gutenbergschule

like whatever this thing is


My aforementioned facebook thread started out with the simple statement:

“Sequoia had her first unicycle class this afternoon. No injuries to report. She did, however, manage to skin her elbow during chorus today. WTF.”

Now, I cannot stress to you the miracle of the lack of injuries in this beginner’s unicycling class. As Sequoia CLUNG to a wall, 19 other children created total mayhem in a class they’d been taking for varying lengths of time. They criss-crossed one another, crashed into walls and pads, fell to the front, side, and back, and would have had personal injury lawyers in America lining up around the side of the building the second the ambulance chasers saw no helmets, no release forms to be filled out, and only one teacher wandering or unicycling around a room of twenty chaotic, unicycling children ranging from age 6 through teens.  If you think I am exaggerating the chaos in the gymnasium, I assure you that I am most likely understating it due to the lack of words available to describe the scene in a way that will give you any semblance of a picture of what I saw before me.  Sequoia stared.  I stared.  Germans were unfazed.  I have to say, people who think Germans are boring and stiff have never seen what Germans allow their children to do without signing 95 release forms.

When Sequoia arrived, she was sporting her helmet.

Not because of my driving

Not because of my driving

When she saw that only one other child in the class was wearing a helmet, she was taken aback. “Mommy, I am not comfortable. You told me to always wear my helmet.” When she noticed the pre-teen girl unicycling down a balance beam without a helmet, she said, “That girl is crazy.” I agreed. I mean, with my jaw on the floor and eyes popping out of my head, I agreed.

Every parade and event in town has unicycling children. Yesterday’s class was divided halfway through, separating out a group of the more advanced beginners, who are preparing for an upcoming festival. They practiced tricks, then held hands in a line while unicycling, all taking a uniform-ish unicycling bow at the end, resulting in only some of them falling forward off of their unicycles.   Most of the kids of all stages walked or rode around practicing balancing a stick with a plate on top. That was great, because not only were kids falling off of unicycles now, but some of them were doing so because another child’s plastic plate was flying into their face.

This is every bit as entertaining as watching my child play dodge ball for the first 15 minutes of karate class, and let me tell you: that is awesome.

I have watched the instructor nail a kid in the head and laugh through his apology. Last week, I watched a kid get struck out, wait on the wall, let off the wall, take one step, then get beaned in the head and be out again. I have watched kids trip over the balls getting thrown at their feet. I have watched kids aim for one person and throw the ball 20’ in another direction. I do not understand why I am the only parent guffawing in the stands. The only thing that would be better: dodgeball on unicycles.

By the end of Sequoia’s first unicycling class, she was timidly pedaling up the wall, falling forward every few cycles and groaning in frustration. But she wasn’t scared, and she is confident that she’ll get it.  So am I, and I can’t wait for her to be the not-at-all-odd kid riding down the street on a unicycle.

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Category: Ex-pat Parenting, FAMILY, In Germany A Broad blog, Shits & Giggles

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

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Sites That Link to this Post

  1. First Grade in German school: a year in review | In Germany, A Broad | July 26, 2014
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  1. Jaton' West says:

    Love your blog! I moved to Berlin when I retired and you can see my adventures at my wordpress blog – oldamericanladyinberlin. I mean, it’s like German is a whole ‘nother country!! Who knew??!! 😉