Today is ride your bike or walk to school day for my daughter's school district. While we live on the city border (aka the boons if you ask Lisa), Lisa lives right smack-dab in the center, the perfect distance from school for a leisurely, spring ride. Perfect! I had visions of loading up happy children, bikes and helmets, a car brimming with smiles and laughter, pride at how green we were being (if you don't count the drive to Lisa's). We might even see a rainbow on the way to school.
"There's no time for peanut butter!" I explained as I slapped two plain waffles on plates and opened a couple yogurts. How was it already 7:45? We had to be at Lisa's at 8 and I hadn't even made lunches yet. I threw together something vaguely resembling all food groups (the diced peaches were in water, so that counts) and shooed the kids out the door.
On the ride to Lisa's, I mentally congratulated myself for remembering everything and everyone and being proactive. You see, Lydia received a new bike for her birthday and it's one she'll have to grow into. Her little tippy toes barely skim the ground and I envisioned her careening into the gang of children we'd be riding with, crying about not being able to start/stop and otherwise creating an unsafe ride for every child and adult involved. I had James on the back of my bike and there was no way I'd be able to stop and help her. Solution? Lydia could ride Mia's old bike. Perfect again! It'd be just her size and she'd smile, laugh and point out those rainbows.
The reality was sobering. Mia's old bike was roughly the size of a tricycle and featured two low tires. "It's okay, you'll be fine," I insisted as we began the journey and Lydia lagged behind. "Just push really hard with your legs. Use your muscles!" said through clenched teeth. This was not going well and we weren't even at the end of Lisa's street. Enter denial and a great deal of regret. This was a bad idea, this was a mistake. At this rate, we were never going to make it to school on time and I was resorting to yelling at Lydia in front of other parents and she was resorting to tears and, I'm not going to lie, wailing. Full-out, tantrum, tear-streaming, breakdown. At this point, she was no longer on the tiny bike, but rather attempting to walk the bike up a "hill." We hadn't even exited Lisa's neighborhood. This was not good. Not good at all.
"You have a choice," I explained, in a voice that did not resemble my own, but rather the voice of a possessed person. "We can turn around or ride to school."
Through hiccups, Lydia insisted that we continue, but as I stared up the grand summit of Lisa's neighborhood, there was just no way. We would abandon the ride, wave the white flag, continue our trail of tears home. Let me tell you, the only thing worse than leading a bike train toward school with a crying six-year-old behind you, is leading a bike train HOME where only one person is riding and the other is slowly unraveling into a puddle of hysterics. If this isn't a failure, I'm not sure what is. In all of my six years of being a mother, this one takes the cake. The worst part was it wasn't Lydia's fault she couldn't ride the bike to school. It was mine. And worse, I couldn't possibly express that through all of my frustration. When I dropped her off at school, she was sweaty and red-cheeked and sad. And I cried as I drove away.
When I dragged my sorry ass back to Lisa's, I explained that I was sure she'd remember this day at the end of her kindergarten school year. The day her mom turned into some bike-riding devil-person forcing her to climb a ridiculous hill on a tricycle. "No, she'll remember the day her mom apologized. Send an email to the secretary and ask her to send a note down to Lydia. I do it all the time," Lisa admitted.
And that's exactly what I did. The school secretary was happy to oblige and said she totally got it, which made me feel about a million times better. Lisa said she bets there are a million of the same email in the secretary's inbox and she's probably right.
So, here's to hoping Lydia remembers the day her mom apologized. Fingers crossed.
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