Stay on Your Bike

Even though I wish it would snow, I’m glad it hasn’t snowed. Is THAT the ultimate human paradox? It’s nice to head out the door without lots of coats, boots, shoveling and worring about icy roads etc. all the winter stuff I normally like and desire but, this year? Less than usual. Not-snow is a little more spontaneous than snow.

I felt this yesterday when I found myself on the golf course with the kids, and they were rolling down a hill that was built to hold up one of the challenging holes. I worry all the time when I’m out with them because they’re little kids, so if they find something that’s rough (they are kids) and yet, safe, I’m happy.

The hill isn’t high. It’s pretty much just ideal small-kid-roll-down size. They ran up, and rolled down, ran up and rolled down, ran up and rolled down. You know. If you’ve been a kid or had them, you know. At one point they took off their jackets and I thought, “Awesome. December 7.” It’s not even a bad little hill for sleds if you’re a little kid.

Of course, as all old people do, I compared their lives with mine “back in the day.” They are 7 and almost 9 (next week). At 7 and 9 my brother and I had more freedom than, well, than I have now. It was normal to say, “Mom, we’re going to the woods,” and we took off, crossing a busy street, running into the forests and fields. Or we’d say, “We’re going to ride our bikes,” and we were out the door getting our bikes out of the garage and riding them, first just on our street, then anywhere we wanted to go. When we were each ten, we got a 3 speeds with skinny tires and GEARS. REAL freedom.

Thinking about bikes as I watched the kids, I thought of a promise one of the Boys on Bikes and I made to each other; that we would stay on our bikes. We agreed staying on our bikes was the best way for us to stay out of trouble. A couple of the boys had gotten off their bikes and ended up in serious — grave — trouble. My life was at a very dangerous juncture, too. 18 isn’t the only sketchy moment in the life of humans.

He’s 44 now and teaching his kids (about the same age as the kids I hang out with) to ride BMX. They recently joined I guess what you’d call a club and had the first race. He was a pro freestyle rider, not a racer. Over this past weekend all three of them won a trophy; he got his first racing trophy. I love it so much. (Thank you Facebook)

With that on my mind yesterday, when the kids and I got back to their house, I said to their mom, “Does M’s bike still have a flat tire?” M is the little girl.

“Yeah. We’re going to fix it. Now that G (husband) is working again we might be able to get one of those tires that can’t go flat.”

“There are a lot of goat-head thorns around here.” I see them bloom, tiny yellow flowers in pernicious faux-clover plants, and sometimes pull a thorn out of a dog’s paw. “If you do, I’ll take the kids to the high school parking lot so they can ride.”

In my mind’s eye I see boys flying helmetless over dirt jumps while I lie in the dirt, pointing a video camera at them. I see my brother and I flying — helmetless — down Bellevue, Nebraska’s steepest hills getting speeding tickets as we raced to the movie theater. I see me, in my forties, rehabbing an injured knee riding my first ever mountain bike, feeling like a hawk as I rocket down the narrow trials and like a slug when I push that sucker up some hills too long and steep to ride, just to get to the top where I could SEE something and ride a certain rollercoaster fire road. I hear a friend say, “Martha! You caught air!”

Watching the kids yesterday, the mantra, “Stay on your bike,” rang through my mind. I see the future of the two little people I spend time with, and I am sure that they need to stay on their bikes, too. I came home and bought each one a gift card for Walmart for Christmas. For bike tires.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/12/08/rdp-monday-pearl/

21 thoughts on “Stay on Your Bike

  1. Oh yes, taking off on your bike for the day…the freedom we had. Now everything is organized and supervised! I like your mantra for life…I know a few people who could use it!

    • It’s a good one. It’s why that boy is now 44 with his own business and awesome kids to whom he is an even more awesome dad. It might be why I’m alive today. 🙂

  2. Love this. sending to my son. For rolling down hills and riding bikes with my grandson. And to my daughter for her amazing Godsons.

    On Tue, Dec 8, 2020, 11:31 AM I’m a Writer, Yes, I Am! and a Painter, too? Who knew? wrote:

    > Martha Kennedy posted: ” Even though I wish it would snow, I’m glad it > hasn’t snowed. Is THAT the ultimate human paradox? It’s nice to head out > the door without lots of coats, boots, shoveling and worring about icy > roads etc. all the winter stuff I normally like and desire but, ” >

  3. My bike and I were ONE! Hopping over curbs and flying down hills. See ya later bye Mom was all I had to do. Coaster brakes and no gears didn’t matter. (helmet? what helmet?) Your gift to those kids is truly precious. ❤️

  4. Martha, book query. I write children’s books on the side but am not an illustrator. Wondering if you know of any publishing houses that might match me up with one? Any advice? I do not want to self publish as money is a tight commodity. Miki

    On Tue, Dec 8, 2020, 11:31 AM I’m a Writer, Yes, I Am! and a Painter, too? Who knew? wrote:

    > Martha Kennedy posted: ” Even though I wish it would snow, I’m glad it > hasn’t snowed. Is THAT the ultimate human paradox? It’s nice to head out > the door without lots of coats, boots, shoveling and worring about icy > roads etc. all the winter stuff I normally like and desire but, ” >

    • I’m an illustrator, though it’s been a while since I had a chance to do that. I work in pretty much any medium. I’m always looking for a project.

      Here’s a link to some of my current work. https://marthakennedy.blog/paintings/

      Here’s a link to my Etsy shop where there are some examples of stuff that’s not on the link above. http://www.etsy.com/shop/MarthaAnnKennedy Most of the garden signs were custom orders.

      I haven’t had the Etsy shop long. I set it up because, well, COVID-19 and seeing that as defining a moment for things I might not normally do. I think a lot of us have looked at it that way.

      If any of the links don’t work, let me know.

  5. I love that you and the neighbors have such a wonderful relationship!! Those kids are going to remember you with such love and laughter!! I do hope they can ride with you… sounds like so much fun!

  6. True! Me and my cousins were free to ride around town on our bikes at age 10. My nieces did not have anything like that freedom at the same age. Different time, different place.

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