Monday is one of my normal days off from work; it is a day filled with taking my daughter to school, being with my son, picking my daughter back up, and then spending the afternoon together. Many holidays also fall on Mondays, and on these days, I am able to have a much more relaxed day with the two kids. My wife often has to work on Monday holidays, so the three of us take life at its own pace. Patriots Day, the excuse Boston has for shutting things down during the marathon, is one of these occasions. I decided not to even try to brave crowds anywhere including downtown and to just hang around the home area. In the morning, we took my daughter’s scooter and her old balance bike with seat lowered to my son’s level down to the tennis and basketball courts at the end of our street. My daughter has never been too confident on the scooter let alone the balance bike, and I thought the smooth surface might help her get back in the saddle from the winter’s hiatus. Sure enough, she was gliding around the basketball court and even learned how to use the back brake. My son mostly walked with the balance bike between his legs, but I did get a few glides in with his feet up on the rests while I held the bike. He really liked that. For a first time out, he was enjoying it. In the afternoon, we hopped across the street to the lawn in front of the school and played baseball and soccer as much as a four year-old and a two year-old can when they don’t have much exposure to either sport. Basically we had fun, and my daughter turns out to be a decent low ball hitter.
When we returned to the house, I got the kids a snack and water to hydrate, and then I checked FaceBook. There went my innocence for the day. My daughter asked what was wrong, and I told her there was an accident near my school. I let her know that people were doing everything they could to help. As the rest of the day unfolded, I heard from my friends and colleagues. So far as I write this on Monday night, I have not heard of anyone I know injured. Several friends were nearby. One, who I saw just one day ago, was at the finish line medical tent and provided emergency care. His is just one of the many stories I have read about people who did the right, courageous, and necessary things in the wake of this event.
I will be working one block from that location on Tuesday, if indeed school is on. When I lived in St. Louis, I felt safe from this type of thing. Boston seems to in the thick of it. I don’t necessarily fear for my family’s safety, but we are much more exposed to it here. As a child, I remember the nuclear war drills we had to do as if ducking under our desks would make any difference at all. It still gave us a feeling of being prepared. At my schools, as in all schools nationwide, we are practicing what to do if an armed intruder attacks. There is no preparation for what happened today; there is only response. I pray that the response is measured and thoughtful and backed by solid evidence. If not, we are handing a world to our children that is not only marred by acts of terror but also by irresponsible reactions that only inspire more violence.
Sunday morning, I put my son in the child seat of my bike and set out for a quick ride. He had never taken a bike ride before, and at one and a half, that was far too long to go without a bike ride. I hit the bike path and did a 20 or 30 minute round trip because I haven’t been riding recently, either. I didn’t want to overdo it for me or for him.
I felt good, and I even managed to work in a stretching routine after the ride. My son, clearly, was not overwhelmed as he was fast asleep when we got back. I transferred him to his crib after taking off his bike helmet and shoes. So much for the excitement of a new experience.
I call my son Bean; my daughter is Noodle, not that she likes that name anymore. Thursday, I pushed my son in the stroller as my daughter zoomed along on her balance bike on the way to preschool. We were running late with an extended sleep in on her part. Usually I am there before the door opens, but today, we were mingling with the crowd that filters in as the day starts.
On the way home, I decided to let my son walk the last couple blocks at his own pace. He touched leaves, stumbled to his knees once (his sandals are a bit big), and generally investigated the world in a much more interactive way.
He also jumped. He stopped every cement square or so, bent his knees, launched his body up, and erupted in fits of giggling. Once or twice he even caught some air beneath his shoes, maybe half an inch at most. However, he was so happy and determined it made the ten-minute, two-block walk extremely enjoyable. He was a jumping bean.
Thursday, my last parent helper day at my daughter’s preschool for the year, she rode her bike to school as is now our routine. This balance bike is perfect for her now except the seat is too low. This makes her use a wide legged approach that ends up adding some lateral wiggle to her already somewhat unsteady handlebar shaking. The result is a bit chaotic at times. I hope by raising the seat a bit to help her keep her legs straight and to help her stop dragging her feet at the end of each stride. I noticed her shoe has a sizable hole which soon will result in her toes being sanded down. I don’t think she will appreciate this, so up goes the seat and handlebars.
On Thursday, my daughter rode her bike all the way to school. Previously, I pushed the double stroller with both kids all the way with the occasional bit of walking by my daughter. One day she even walked all the way home, but this is not a practical way for us to get to school. It took about an hour and a half.
The day was gray and drizzly–the kind of day that folks around here love to complain about. I love being out in cool, damp weather. I also love what it does for my garden and all the plants around. So we put on rain coats and set out for school.
Because of the rain the night before, there were significant puddles on the sidewalk, especially at the curbs. Before this trip, my daughter usually kept her feet on or close to the ground when using her walking bike. It was really a walking bike rather than a glider. The puddles, however, created a fun reason to pick the feet up, and as the walk went on, she became more and more comfortable gliding and going fast. In fact, I added a bit of extra time figuring she would take breaks or some other issue might happen. We did the normally 30 minute walk in about 20 with me jogging to keep up. The walking bike became a running bike!
I love how confident she became even in this one journey; her balance improves, and she is getting ready for a pedal bike. She already has declared that her pedal bike must have a basket for carrying things.
My daughter has a big head; well, it’s bigger than it was last year. Her bike helmet no longer fits. Her recent trip to the doctor for her annual checkup came away all good except getting a little more exercise into the routine. She does love running around and playing at the playground, but we can certainly have her walk and bike when we are going places rather than hitching a ride in the stroller. We have a nice walker/glider bike that she likes using, so this is easy. I hope to have her gliding along on her way to school, a half hour walk for me with the stroller. But her head is too big for her old helmet.
Today while my wife was busy, I took the kids to a bike store. I assumed it would be open by 11:00, but found that it would be closed for another hour when I showed up. We killed the time in a neat playground that we had not visited before. I have passed it in the summer, and there is a fabulous water section. I had forgotten to have my daughter pee before we left, so we hurried from there to a nearby grocery store, hit the bathroom, and made it to the bike store at the crack of noon.
There are two stores within a block of each other. One carries adult bikes and gear, and the other is dedicated to children’s bikes and oddities like tandem bikes. I got a new saddle for my bike at the first, and then we headed over to the kids’ store to check out our options.
I knew ahead of time that there would be the standard gendered options and that we would have to work around the pink ones. Sure enough, my daughter pointed them out, and I let her know that they were not an option. From the remaining ones which included white, black, blue, green, and red/orange, she chose the last one. I don’t know what it was that attracted her to this design, but it is certainly visible and thus a plus for safety. We also got some bike gloves that fit her. I dread the first real tumble from the bike, but the gloves may really help in that situation. She loves them and wore them, in the car, on the ride home.
This afternoon, my wife took her on a long ride. Hopefully we can keep pace with our growing daughter for some time yet.
These days, both children have picked up some whining behavior, and my wife and I are working to change it through positive parenting moves. However, it really gets too much sometimes, so we divide and conquer. Often I take one of the kids and get outside. With the younger, I use a stroller; with the older, I have her walk.
Today, I took my son on an hour walk that covered 3.3 miles. The cool, fresh air calmed him down, I got in a good chunk of exercise, and the scenery was amazing. Magnolias, fruit trees, daffodils, honeysuckle. The blooms were everywhere. I especially liked the chartreuse of the new weeping willow leaves in the park.
I really want to model some level of fitness, love of nature, and comfort with being outdoors for my children; these are core values that I hope to pass on.