Independence on two wheels

Muscular calves and 20″.

I thought about these yesterday during a lovely afternoon walk with the kids, and had a proud and sad moment as a parent. Well, I was walking, and they were biking. That’s where the 20″ and muscular calves come in. I was proud because looking at them, the Girl on her newly-acquired-from-auction* 20″ bike and the Boy’s cute little calves as he stood up off the seat to push down on his pedals, I realised that this was a big year for them in bicycle achievement. My Girl was no longer riding a “little girl’s” pink bike with its handlebar streamers and small white tires. My Boy, well, the little daredevil is always trying new moves on his new dirtbike-like bike, and desperately asking every day, “When can I get rid of my training wheels?” Even as the unreasonably overprotective mom in me doesn’t understand why they have to spring up off their seat as they pedal furiously away, the proud part of me marvels at how much strength is developing in their little legs as they push their way up a hill.

Now known as the Kangaroo Carrier, this was quite the traffic stopper when we were the first in our neighbourhood to have one 8 years ago (photo from weeride.com)

And I was sad as I realised that they are truly no longer babies. Earlier this spring, when I took my own bike out of the garage for the first time, I faced the sad truth that we would be selling our Wee Ride this year, as we no longer had dependent babies/toddlers who would have to ride with Mom. (And even though the Girl rode behind Papa on her Trail-Gator for a couple of summers, I already see our little Mr. Independent as not wanting that for too long, so no doubt that will be garage-sale fodder soon as well.)

Funny how it’s the most unexpected things which jolt us into thoughts that our kids are growing up. I always thought it would be the first tooth lost, or the moment I folded and put away a diaper for the last time. But no, it’s the bicycles.

As we rolled out to the playground yesterday, with the sinking sun on my face while I gazed upon their retreating backs, I became aware of this feeling of being happily sad. They were wheeling away from me into big-kid-dom.

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* Many people may not be aware of this, but most municipalities and their police department have bike auctions, where one can find really decent bikes for sometimes unbelievable prices. The first bike auction that the Beloved Husband and I ever attended, was in the Montreal suburb of Beaconsfield. Here, I as a newbie cyclist acquired my first bike for $5. Some children’s bikes had their bids started at $1 (and went unsold!). At that moment, we turned to each other and said, “Man, I wish I had a kid right now!” (Well, a couple of other moments and reasons made us want to have children, but that one right there was a funny starter one.)

So a few weeks ago, we picked out the Girl’s bike from a pile of about 70 in the lot of lost or unclaimed bikes that were put up for auction. No more $1 deals were to be had this time around, but we got hers (which was in great condition) for less than half of what we figured we would have paid retail. There were none in the Boy’s size, but I could tell that he was drawn into the excitement of the auction as much as the crowd. Best deal of the day? A Specialized bike that was missing only a seat, for $25.

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