Recently my two oldest boys (11 and 8) asked if they could ride their bikes to the pool. The 11 year old has ridden many times, but this would be the 8 year olds first time on his new bigger bike.
They planned out their path in great detail and after receiving some strict instructions from their mom (about their ride to the pool), they were off. Little did I know they had a whopping five bucks in their pockets.
They rode the path from our home to our local public pool along the newly placed sidewalk that now stretches from the entrance of our street all the way passed the high school, through the tree lined neighborhood, along the front of the hospital and ends at the golf course, which is just a block from the pool. They later described their daring and yet careful crossing of the quiet street that the pool is located on. My heart was relieved that they had made it safely, until I heard the rest of the story.
After several hours of sun, chlorine, and the back flops off the diving board, two boys hopped on their bikes for their journey home. But instead of taking the quiet tree lined sidewalk safe path that they had chosen for their ride to the pool, they instead headed through the busy neighborhood streets, crossed the four lane (might as well of been the freeway in my mind) main street in our community to spend the five dollars they had carefully collected and was burning in their pockets.
I can only picture them racing down the sidewalk along Bremer Ave. stopping at each intersection, imagining they stopped and walked their bikes to cross the street (I can hope), and finally arriving at one of our local gas stations/convenience stores filled with everything imaginable for two boys to spend their hard earned five dollars.
After hearing of their daring and adventurous afternoon, I didn't inquire too much about the actual purchase. All I saw was the wrappers and satisfaction that two boys had enjoyed this and this.
They had not given too much thought about what mom may think of their choice to make a quick stop (in their minds) to spend their hard earned money until the door opened from the garage and they entered the house carefully hanging towels and backpacks on hooks and heading to the trash can with evidence in hand.
Eyes red, cheeks sun kissed, and shoulders pink, their faces beamed with excitement and satisfaction as if they had just done something really wonderful and important. Over the next thirty minutes I heard the stories of their big adventure. It started with words like careful, slow, crosswalks, and ended with "it was so cool", "my brakes work good", and "I looked back once in a while to make sure he was ok".
As a mother I knew this was one of those moments where I had a choice. I could ruin the day my two boys headed out together on their bikes and did something they had never done before or I could enjoy the moment, the excitement, their accomplishment and join in on their celebration. I chose the latter.
I knew in my heart that my oldest son (who has traveled a little more on his bike) was careful and watchful of his younger brother. I knew the younger brother listened and followed carefully the instructions of his older brother. I will never know what risks they took, the smiles they gave each other or of the sheer joy only the two of them experienced as they rode along in the sunshine on a summer afternoon.