This morning our goal is to find Joey a bicycle for Christmas. I have real mixed feelings about the bicycle experience for my boys. Not that I don’t want them to have a bicycle, or learn to ride a bicycle. I just don’t want them to go anywhere on a bicycle. In other words, once the glow of the fact that they have a bicycle wears off, I’m hoping to put both Joey’s new one, and Andy’s in the shed to be forgotten and covered with a thick coat of New Mexico dust from the next wind storm.
Why do I feel this way? It’s not that I had some bad experience as a child on a bicycle. In fact, the bicycle was our freedom. We went everywhere on our bicycles. I can remember living on the cul-de-sac of Kimberly in Houston, hopping on our bicycles and heading all the way to Town & Country Village to the hobby shop to look at the model trains. We rode without helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, water bottles, GPS’s, etc. Off on the Schwinn Sting Ray and no stopping until we got there.
My parents didn’t worry that some child molester would kidnap us and activate the Amber Alert. They knew we would be gone for a while and then back again for lots of water and the cool of our living room. They knew we were fairly safe, even in Houston.
If it wasn’t off to Town & Country Village, we were off to Rummel Creek Elementary school, where we could find suicide hill next to the creek. This was where we became Evil Knieval wannabes. We would get going full speed and head down suicide hill. We might even become air born off the top of suicide hill. No one ever really got hurt other than the occasional scrape or bruise. Remember that this was long before the lunacy of the X-games. We were not thinking about doing flips in midair. We were just thinking about… midair. If a tire left the ground or pavement, it was cool enough for us. Wheelies were the big craze and the height of bicycle talent in those days. There were those guys who even changed out the gears on their bicycles to facilitate the wheelie. They could do wheelies for blocks at a time. They were the height of cool and legends of our bicycle worlds.
The truth be known, I’m not sure I want my boys to have those experiences. Especially the experience of heading off on their bicycles for hours at a time. Not in this world. Not in these days of lunacy. In fact, I’m certain I will have to buy a bike for myself so that when they do head off to the park, I can go with them. They will not head off to the park alone, or the multiple trails that divide up the city of Roswell. I will be right there with them, watching, warning and praying.
Am I being overprotective? You bet. But that is the world in which we live. I don’t like it. I wish we lived in safer societies, but given the tragedy that happened just last week, we know it to be a different world.
So I will buy Joey a bicycle. And I might even teach him to ride his, and eventually teach Andy to ride his. But will I ever let them head out to the park or some where alone and without me? I hope not. Things have changed too much in our world. Instead of having the experiences of brothers being boys on places like suicide hill, they will have to grow up with the experience of Dad going everywhere with them. Come to think of it, not a bad thing at all.
I better get looking for that bicycle.