MamaBlogger365 – A Ride Towards Independence by Jennifer Covello
My son is on his fifth bike. The first, while perhaps not really a bike, was a three-wheeler that either I or his father would push as he learned the art of pedaling. The second was a shiny red tricycle that he rode around our cul-de-sac like a pro. His third bike was a two-wheeler that I did my level best to teach him how to ride. The scenes we see on TV, which depict a parent lightly holding on to the back of a bike and then letting go as the child miraculously pedals away, are nowhere near the reality I would face on a regular basis trying to help him balance and not all off.
As my son grew out of his first two-wheeler, we replaced it with a larger bike, which basically sat in the shed as he had lost complete interest. After two years of inactivity, I sold the bike only to find out a about a year later that his lack of interest was replaced with a new fervor to have a bike.
Back to the bike store we went and his fifth (and final!) bike was purchased.
He immediately was whizzing around our neighborhood. His friends came over with their bikes and wanted him to accompany them to the local elementary school to play basketball. My son had not yet ridden a bike off of our street. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous and not totally on board with him “leaving the nest.”
But since he is nearing fifteen, I figured that this small step towards independence is a good thing for both of us. As he pedaled off out of my sight, I said a little prayer that he would be safe. I instructed him to stay on the sidewalks, to look both ways before crossing, and no “crazy stuff.” (Of course, his definition of crazy and mine are not likely to be the same.) I told him what time to be home and to call me upon his arrival. Off he went.
Okay, not quite helicopter parenting, but borderline.
While we live in a safe area, I couldn’t help but wonder if some crazy person would be out and about where my son and his friends were playing basketball. I thought about the people who talk on their cell phones or text while driving and don’t see the kids riding their bikes. It made me sad really. Sad because one of the many joys of growing up is becoming independent. Being able to go where you want with your own means of transportation is invigorating.
But the world in which I grew up, where I could ride my bike not only throughout my neighborhood but even further into town at times is long gone. Today’s fast-paced, unpredictable world is not the safest place for kids.
Little by little, kids have gotten more barricaded into their own little worlds. Fenced-in yards limit interaction between neighbors. Busy streets force kids to play in their own yards or worse, stay inside all day. The freedom and independence that I experienced as a pre-teen and teenager has for the most part been stripped away. It makes me wonder if that’s why kids have such a tough time in school. They are boxed in all day in a classroom, and then boxed in again when they get home. I’d want to escape too!
As I watched my son pedal away on his bike, my heart leapt a little. One day, he’d be driving away and it won’t be to the school around the corner with his friends, but to college or to his own home. I couldn’t help but wish for the days of pushing him around on his tricycle and knowing that he’d be safe with me.
While my nest is far from empty yet, it will come quicker than expected. These baby steps towards independence will hopefully prepare both my children and me for that fateful day.
“The Purposeful Parent”
Jennifer Covello is The Purposeful Parent, an award-winning author and owner of Frittabello baby gifts. Her passion for motherhood is evident through her writings and her speaking on topics that impact moms and children. As a mother of two children, Ms. Covello, continually searches for the lessons her children teach her along her parenting journey.