it’s old school – scrapes and all
the smell of summer before the sun comes up makes me nostalgic. i love the subtle smell that greets me as i slide open the patio door. the sun is still sleepy but the promise of summer makes my toes tingle. there are hundreds of memories that tumble free as i inhale that sweet cool air…
mostly i remember carefree days where kids tumbles from house to house unencumbered….no mothers trailing them. i remember jumping on my bike and cruising up and down the streets for hours…we moved in a pack, bikes abandoned at the tops of driveways as we made our way through the neighbourhood from house to house. there were no requisite snack times or water bottles strapped to our bikes and sunscreen was ‘saved’ for days at the beach. we flew down streets, wind whipping our hair (helmets hadn’t arrived) legs pumping, lungs full of air as we yelled out to each other plans for the next stop.
i yearn for those moments for my son and his friends, and fear they may not be able to find the freedom in the childhood of today. good mamma’s make sure their kids are prepped (boy scouts ain’t got nothing on some of the moms i know) first aid kits, sunscreen, snacks, water, sun hats, change of clothes …you name it they’ve got it. i’m not quite there, i am somewhere in the half-light…i’ve got some band aids and polysporin and usually some water…but sometimes we run out.
last evening we slid into my childhood for a few hours. my son ran into his good friend at the schoolyard where they were surreptitiously both on bikes. my little guy was trying out his ‘big bike’ (pedal bike) that actually is quite big….and he was determined to ride it on his own…despite him just mastering the small pedal bike last week. i had the smaller bike in the car and asked if he wanted to switch it up. i got a pretty emphatic “NO.” so i let him have at it, and saluted his determination and stubbornness (kinda got it from me…well the stubbornness). so there is my son whipping after his buddy, dropping of curbs and making his way down steeper hills than i would have liked. i smiled, it was the way of kids
after watching him (sort of hawk-like) i just chilled and let him be. i saw them out of the corner of my eye making their way around the schoolyard/park and heard them yelling at each other . they were figuring out where to go next. a little piece of my heart fell into place, and i felt they were free–moms and rules were forgotten.
i laughed and turned to my buddies mom and talked to her about ‘pulling’ my son out of the his ‘bike lessons.’ a few months back my husband and i had enrolled him in a bike lesson so he would master the pedal bike–mainly because he wanted to ride with his older friends. note–“pedal bike”–cause he has already mastered the run bike (actually two of them-we had to upgrade). kamikaze doesn’t even cover it. we kind of hemmed and hawed because we thought he would already be riding by the time the lessons arrived–but they fill up fast…and there you have it. lessons fill up fast. but really, when did bike riding become a “lesson?” well, i think right about the time kids were no longer able to run and roam free in their neighbourhood, and parents were struggling to find that time to teach their kids to bike–why not consider lessons? i’m not knocking lessons or the reasons parents put their kids their, as a parent i know we are all just doing our best, but last night i had a moment. i remember rolling with the training wheels and the big orange flag…and having fun. one look at the boys, and you could feel the sparkle in their eyes… these kids were having fun and were free. i liked it, a lot.
and then i heard it, the unmistakable wail of my child–and as he cried out for me, i thought, as different as things are today, they are still much the same. as i ran up to him and untangled him from the bike–a move every mom has done at least once in her life, i scooped him up and hugged him tight. i checked his face, no blood…i relaxed..i was pretty sure the knee and elbows would be scraped (yes, no pads) but that is the price of learning to ride. after a minute or so, i checked him out and sure enough the tell tale scrape, gravelled and grey with the promise of blood was stamped across his knee. this would have been an unprepared moment of mine, so i used the tried and true technique to clean him up. saliva and my whole hand across the knee for 30 seconds while we talked about falling down and getting up again. a couple of minutes later, he high-fived me and was back on his bike– a little bit bloody but full of an energy and confidence that kids keep bottled inside for moments like these. i think we are skipping those lessons–we are going to go old school.
as the sun dipped we headed into his buddies house for some food–we had passed real dinner time and the kids were waning. later that night as i tucked him into bed and he drifted off to sleep i too drifted. i remember the falls, scrapes and scratches that really are the badges of my childhood–although most have faded i have a few good reminders that line my skin. those white lines that ‘mar’ me are reminders to:
always pick yourself up when you fall
with a little practice you can get where you want to go
friends are awesome
wind in your hair is the ultimate sense of freedom
getting dirty is part of the fun
scrapes heal, and you learn to something from each one
ok summer (and life) we’re ready…
About ithinkinwordsi love common sense and innovation. the trails, mountains and oceans are magic. i run a little, have recently taken up mountain biking and find bliss in yoga. getting outside everyday and moving is a must! sometimes when i am driving i look into the rearview and think how did i get here? -- last time i looked i was 17 and crossing my fingers my VW had enough gas. well it got me here.
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