Kids, Let's chat

Be the fun parent

I realise this is a strange title and can give the incorrect impression, so read on to see what I mean.

I’m one of those people who can’t sit still and do nothing. Put a different way, I seldom sit still…period. I always find something to do, or think of something I should be doing, or remember something I’ve been wanting to do for ages but haven’t had a chance to do – yadayadaya! So when my son says “Hey Mom, let’s go for a bike ride”, it’s a great opportunity to get out and about and do something active and enjoyable with him.

It finally stopped raining and we’ve enjoyed a week of warmer, sunnier weather so the other day after school was the perfect opportunity.
Except that when I took my bike down from the bike rack the tyres were both flat. I pumped the tyres, but the front one seems to have a problem with the valve and wouldn’t pump. Plan B – I got my hubby’s bike down and decided it would have to do. Off we road until…after free-wheeling down the hill and slowing down to turn into the main road, the chain jumped off the sprocket, proceeded to get stuck in the sprocket and locked the back wheel. I was very thankful in that moment for two things: 1) I had slowed down quite a lot to round the corner, and 2) when the chain jammed and locked the wheel and I toppled over into the road, luckily there were no cars coming along in my lane or things might not have ended as well as they did.

After picking up the bike, turning it over onto it’s seat and handlebars and trying to fix the chain (which was impossible and very messy!),  my white pants were filthy from grease and mud. My sense of humour was fading fast. My patient and kind little man who had ridden along ahead of me turned round and we headed for home, with him explaining how I could have fixed the chain and me wearing a fake smile, a not-so-light heart and trying to carry a man-size bicycle with a locked wheel that wouldn’t allow it to be pushed. Not to be swayed from our ‘afternoon of fun’, it was time for Plan C. I hadn’t realised there was a Plan C until I spied his scooter. One of those 1-foot at a time push type scooters. Excellent. Me on the scooter, him on his bike. Off we went.

We had a ball. My glutes screamed with what I’m still not sure was either agony or joy at being used and my thigh muscle memory remembered this activity as something resembling lunges so I had to take turns with the support and push legs, but it was exhilarating. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I might lose my balance or hit an uneven piece of pavement, but I had a ball. I can well imagine the sight for passing dog-walkers, cyclists, joggers and drivers as a 40-something grown woman zoomed by on a child’s scooter, wearing a bike helmet and trying to catch up to a 9 year old on a bicycle, but I had more fun than I probably would have had on my bike. The smiles, waves and shouts of hello from passers by as I sailed on was encouraging. My son loved the fact that we were still out together. He kept coming back to check if I was OK, stopping to let me catch up and directing me where to be careful and what to watch out for. We went all the way to the marina and back on a gorgeous sunny afternoon. And no I don’t have a photo of me, sorry, but perhaps next time, because believe me there will definitely be a next time. It was a hoot and a great way to spend an hour that neither my son nor I will forget in a long while.

So back to the title. If I had showed my annoyance at the bike episode and called off the ride we would have missed a wonderful afternoon activity. What did I teach him? Have fun. If something doesn’t work out the way you want it to then try something else. If you fall down (in this case quite literally) get up, dust yourself off and try again. I want him to remember me as the mom who he had fun with. The crazy grown-up on the scooter. Someone who wasn’t too annoyed, too embarrassed or too busy to do something with him. And this isn’t the first time.

I’m not proposing to be his “buddy”, I am his Mother and parent who has been given the responsibility of teaching him right from wrong; setting an example with my actions not only my words; and showing him how to turn a possibly negative situation into a positive one using only my mind and attitude. Of course I’m the first to admit I don’t always get it right, but the test (and fun) is in trying. And the joy of this life is that we have gazillions of opportunities to try again when we don’t get it quite right.

The other day my heart nearly burst with love and pride when my husband was giving my son a hug and asked him: “So who is the best Dad in the world?” He looked into his Dad’s eyes and said “You Dad, but only until I’m a Dad and then I’ll be the best Dad”. Wow! So much to be thankful for and feeling blessed beyond measure.

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