Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Cycling Seasons

Over this weekend the kids ventured into the spidery outside basement and brought out bikes and helmets. These have been put away for several years. We can’t even remember how long, but I think it was about seven years ago when Aidan was still in and out of hospitals a lot.

The bikes have traded down to a different set of kids. Clare still retains her old bike, which is the only girl’s model of the lot. Kieron has Brendan’s now, and Sean has Liam’s. Aidan has been trying to figure out a way to ride Sean’s old bike, but it is too big for him, and I am trying to persuade Kieron to brave the spider zone again to find a smaller size bike. We have just about every size but in all varieties of condition.

Kieron was riding down the hill today and lost control and crashed. He is covered with bruises but nothing serious. He was wearing his helmet. Of course I am not happy to see him injured, but bicycle crashes seem to me to be so integral to growing up that I can’t altogether regret it happened. I remember how much I learned from my occasional crashes with reality, and my efforts to avoid making the same mistakes in future. Learning Umbrella linked to this blog Free Range Kids. The idea is not to expose kids to unnecessary risk, but to acknowledge that a satisfying and worthwhile life doesn’t really spring out of “uber-safety” and that childhood is a good time to develop judgment in the smaller things so that it can be a factor in the bigger things of life.

I think it was easier in former generations. My dad wrote in his personal account of his childhood years that he and his friends and siblings roamed on the New England coast and got into various scrapes that would probably have appalled his mom if she had known. Once they almost got trapped by the tide. Similarly, I remember spinning out my mo-ped in Switzerland and landing on my chin and coming home streaming blood. My husband got hit by a baseball bat his friend was swinging too carelessly. When he was 16 he and a friend drove to the Bay Area to go to a rock concert; when I was about the same age, I travelled with a friend by Eurorail to a concert across the country. The trains stopped running and we tried to sleeping-bag it in the station but the police came and kicked us out, and then finding that we had nowhere to go, let us bunk in a cell at the Zurich jail. I’ve talked with friends who have said there is a difference between how they were raised back then and how they raise their kids now. Just pondering, and I know it’s probably different in different families, but my kids have generally stayed closer to home than Kevin and I did in our youthful days, partly because there are few places to go up here in the mountains. I’m trying to be aware of the value of letting the kids practice a variety of things and develop some “smarts” to take with them out into the world.

Sean reviewed the second chapter of algebra. We are just going through each summary and review in turn.

Paddy stood up a Lego guy and stood next to it and said, “Look how big I am compared to this guy.” Certainly the difference was on a scale of magnitudes. I said, “Is he scared of you?” and Paddy replied very seriously, “Should small guys be scared of big guys?” Oops, mom. Sometimes I say things reflexively just to keep a sort of conversation going and this time I sure got called on it. I said, “I guess big guys really should protect little guys,” and we went downstairs to make supper.

Liam is coming home next week, and then off to Oregon to intern as a computer game designer. Another new season there. Every day Aidan leans over me as I try to catch a bit more sleep and breathes in my face, “Are we going to pick LIam up — TODAY?”