In every life there are moments that define us. Moments that stand out as amazing, embarrassing, ridiculous, tender, or painfully raw. And there are moments, both good and bad, that cause you to halt, step away from your actual body, and identify exactly who you are.
That is how my entry began of my other biking story.
Though it seems almost impossible, this same opening statement appears to apply to what happened yesterday. And since that’s true–really, truly, true in the truest sense of truth and trueness–I guess we can all only draw one really true conclusion:
The problem has to be me.
I’m the problem.
I should not be allowed to bike.
And if I should not be allowed to bike, FOR SURE I should not be allowed to bike with children.
So the morning started slowly enough with kids eating this and that for breakfast and us trying to make a plan for the day. We’d been kicking around the idea of biking to the library since before Squishyknickers lost the training wheels. Truthfully, I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. Well, she lost the training wheels on Saturday, took off like a champ that same day, and has practiced here and there for the last few days. So naturally, with 4 whole days of real world bike-riding experience under her belt, today seemed like the perfect day for a long journey to the public library.
That sounded just perfect to me.
And I announced it as such. My “We are riding to the library and having a grand adventure” announcement was met with differing reactions. AG, now 13, was like, “Meh.” Whatever. He could take it or leave it. I know he was hoping to leave it, but I told him to take it and he was cool with that. The girls were both very “YAY” about the whole thing. And then there was Mama’s Boy. He was having no pieces of that pie.
You might be thinking you know what I mean. You might be thinking about some child you’ve seen have a slightly negative reaction to an activity they sort of didn’t want to do. You might think maybe that Mama’s Boy doesn’t like to ride bikes. All of that is waaaaaaaay off. Mama’s Boy DOES like to ride bikes. But Mama’s Boy saw this one coming from across the pond and he called it like he saw it. I won’t recount the entire conversation because that’s no good for any of us. But I will give you his closing statement, which he clearly hoped would heavily alter my decision.
“This is going to be a DISASTER.”
Yeah, ok. Duly noted. Go get your library card.
Several outfit changes and 30 minutes later, we were all in the garage with our bikes listening to MB’s dire prophetic warnings of the end of the world.
And then, we were off.
I picked a route that wasn’t necessarily the shortest, but seemed to me would have the fewest obstacles and passing cars. For the next 8 minutes, it was a completely painless and pleasant bike ride for all 5 of us. Even MB was looking off toward the golf course, doing wheelies, and granting rave reviews and blessings on the neighborhood, the weather, and our decision to ride to the library. But little by little, circumstances began to chip away at the veneer of perfection. And by circumstances, I mean the stamina and biking skills of a 6-year-old who’d been riding for only 4 days. What had I actually thought would occur?
If only someone had warned me.
Anyway, some cops drove past us, obviously looking for a car going faster than 25. They smiled at us as they drove by, with that “aww, look how cute” expression. Maybe this is when the tide turned. Maybe Squishy saw the cops driving away and all hope inside her died. Maybe she was hoping for an easy ride to the library and the nice policemen, thinking she was enjoying herself, drove away. I’m not sure. But moments after the police car disappeared from view, she began to putter to a stop. And she stopped like 900 times in the next 15 minutes.
At that point, it was difficult to hear any actual voices or words coming from the real children. All I could hear was Mama’s Boy inside my own head. His prophecies were ringing in my ear like a toddler’s first day with a violin. Sigh.
So I stopped everyone. And first I gave a really convincing pep talk. “OK, everyone. Great job out here. You are looking strong. The library is just around the corner (It wasn’t) and the rest is mostly downhill (ummm…).” Then, I gave a little enlivening water to the little knickerbocker biker and tried to drum up the fever pitch to get going again. YAY! Rah rah library! Let’s DO THIS!
For one minute.
My contrived enthusiasm lasted us down one hill, around a corner, and up half of another “hill.” And then she stopped again. This time, she dropped her bike, hunched her shoulders forward, and sat down on the curb.
You guys go on. I’ll wait here.
OK, come on, girl. You can do this.
Yeah, no I can’t. I’ll just rest here for awhile.
And then came the look. And the actual words. There he was, Mama’s Boy, straddling his bike as he raised his eyebrows at the situation and said to me, “I told you this was going to happen. It’s a disaster.”
Dude, this is NOT a disaster. It’s just a thing. A thing NOT riding her bike that we now have to deal with.
I had a solution to this intensifying problem. I was just hoping Mama’s Boy would be on board. I would carry her bike, while still biking myself, and he would carry her. Strangely enough, this young, naysaying prophet agreed to the plan and Squish climbed up on the pegs on his back wheel and grabbed on to his shoulders. I hoisted her bike up under my right arm and took off peddling.
I could go on and on here. Really, I could. I mean, there were 13 pounds of books checked out and a walking visit to CVS AFTER the library visit. But you don’t need me to prolong the madness. On our way back to our bikes from CVS, Mama’s Boy decided again that he was done with the whole thing and exclaimed, “What are we even doing here? Wandering around a city?! Doing nothing! On things that were invented 100 years ago!”
And at that, we hopped on those 100-year-old inventions and headed back toward our house. This time, we took the shorter route. I had some really upbeat thoughts as we headed toward home. This time would be shorter, easier. The rest had done us good. We were hydrated, pumped up, ready. And then maybe 29 seconds passed and I heard crying. Wailing, if you will. I turned around to see what exactly the problem was this time. Had she fallen? Was she hurt? What I saw baffled me. A small girl wearing a ridiculous looking bike helmet was riding her bike with grace and aplomb, while wailing.
Squishy, what’s wrong? I called out.
And still wailing, she answered back: “I’m–ruining–everything.”
Oh, but I had to laugh. This was just pathetic. About this time, my oldest boy who had been over us for quite some time, requested permission to ditch the circus clowns and ride home with some dignity. Beloved, who had not complained or mistepped a single time, followed him.
And there–at a fork in the road by a ritzy little country club–sat a pep talker, a wailing 6-year-old, and a boy who finally said it, “I guess I proved MY point.”
Ahh, good times. Good times.
And in the interest of eating lunch sometime before 2 o’clock, I humbly requested that the boy allow his little sister to again climb up onto his bike pegs and ride home clutching his shirt tails while I rode home with a 16-inch bike under one arm.
Between there and home, which wasn’t too much farther, we got a few offers for rides from kind neighbors we’ve not yet met. This still makes me laugh. If perfect strangers see what you are doing, pity what you are doing, and beg you to allow them to help you, your activity has jumped the tracks. Just FYI.
And also FYI, it was NOT a disaster.
I just need to tweak the process a little bit.
Next time, we’re going to Burger King. Come what may, there’s nothing a Whopper Jr. can’t put a bandaid on…