Monday, April 9, 2012


Sometimes I do the right thing.

Then I discover how sheltered I'd been by doing the less right thing.

Case in point? Bicycles.

We have enough two wheelers of varying sizes and shapes to start our own Tour De France without any of the posh designs, prestige or sponsors in our garage.

About a month ago, I fell into a fit of dutifulness and began schlepping said machines to the shop for spring tune ups. The cascade effect of getting two bikes fixed, six other children now howl miserably that their wheels need repairs. A whole Lent later, the last bike got its tires pumped, chains oiled and a new tube in the back wheel and is now ready for action.

Giving under 16s access to bikes is like giving keys to the car. It is freedom and they know it. They want it. They taste it. They intend to use and abuse it and you know full well, it will happen.

I now spend my entire life as a bicycle traffic controller. You are cleared to go to the bike stop and back. Negative, you must stay on the runway. You have your helmet on backwards. You may not travel as you have shown yourself unreliable about staying on schedule. You must have a partner. You have lost horn privileges for blasting that sucker in my ear.

The only thing worse than giving limited clearance to each child according to their bike skill/age level, competency and my confidence, is watching them go. I know I gave them permission. I also know if they're hurt, I gave them permission.

This is one of those no win scenarios that no parenting magazines talk about, where I get to fret because they are going and fret until they return. It is part of growing up. But for the record, as a parent, as much as we want our kids to grow up, it's painful the second time around watching it happen too.

Now I am handing out cell phones and keeping mine on me for calls from the wild as they explore a world without the benefit or protection of me. It is good to see siblings, brothers and sisters doing this together.

It still makes me a wreck. I know its stupid and I should be glad they're exercising, they're playing, they're doing real things. I still worry.

When they return, I still get to fret over different things, like getting them to park their bikes and stow their helmets, preferably not behind the van or where they can accidentally be run over by a UPS truck or anyone else who comes up our driveway and convincing them that dodging toddlers who are on tricycles and coloring with chalk is only less stressful to their mother than actually hitting the children on tricycles or who are coloring with chalk. That it would be best if they ceased biking once they come across any of the under 5 set.

But the other day, one of my daughters remarked on how some of the skates need repair and how much fun it would be for the 6 and 5 year old. Looking at the 9 bikes in the garage, one stroller and two wagons, I'm in no hurry. I may get the younger ones more chalk though...

1 comment:

gaylene said...

Love this! I've been feeling this way lately, too. Nice post.

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