Not long ago – and by “not long” I mean just prior to last Sunday – I had all but given up on the idyllic vision of our family riding bicycles through the countryside one day.
Now, I hadn't given up on this notion because of the lack of time or inclination on the part of adults, who, let's face it, aren't exactly the active sort in their off time. *Clears throat, cough-husband-cough, clears throat again.*
Nor was it my fear of winding, country roads with their dangerous blind curves; or newly licensed texting teens, Z-OMG; or even the middle-aged road ragers, some of whom have started making it a habit to show off the length of their middle fingers when we meet at the fulcrum of our weekend commutes – they in their cars, probably headed to a barroom at 7 a.m.; and me in my DayGlo-colored spandex, running at full jog along the road's shoulder, you know, sensibly.
No, my hopes for a family bike trip had circled the drain because of my youngest's insistence – at the ripe old age of eight -- that he would never, ever, never ever in a million years, ever ride a bike. Anywhere. Ever. Not unless it had training wheels, was tethered to a bike being ridden by his father, or was a part of some elaborate three-dimensional animated universe wherein he only had to stand in front of a blue screen and pretend to pedal. Then, and only then, would he even consider being anywhere near a bike.
No matter what I said or how I tried to convince him, no matter how many bikes he had to choose from, my son stubbornly stood his ground. He would not allow me, nor anyone else in our orbit, to run alongside him if there was even the remotest of possibilities they would let go of the two-wheeled death trap and watch incredulously as it catapulted off a cliff with him still astride, screaming in terror.
Because careening off a cliff as the whole world watches is what “letting go” apparently means to anyone who tries to define it.
Now, I must admit, a part of me felt a surge of relief at his intractability. Because of it, he would also never likely get a 35-pound bike in a tangle with a 10-ton truck. But the relief was tinged with sadness every time a six-year-old whizzed past us – training-wheel-free – on our way to the farmer's market.
But I was letting go.
And now I was moving on … to the grocery shopping part of my day.
I was even considering rolling the blasted training bike out to the end of the driveway just to be done with it. Maybe roll my own antiquated road bike right out there with it. Heck, the girl's peddle-pusher is over the hill, too. Ship them all out to the curb and dust my hands.
How many bikes had we acquired over the years anyway? This one is too small. This one is too tall. … A well-loved hand-me-down here, an unloved Christmas present there. It seemed our garage was a Goldie Locks and the Three Bears morality tale of bicycle ownership, except nothing fit quite right.
And then, as I was mentally cleaning out our garage in the cold cereals aisle, a text from my husband whistled into my phone.
Attached to it was a video of the boy riding the tiny bike at full speed around our quarter-mile driveway … sans safety wheels.
I let go of the idea of getting my garage back and remembered the middle-aged, middle-fingered roadways.
I took a deep breath and let that go, too.
Somewhere there's a bike path less traveled. And someday we'll get there.