Rhema got a trike for her tenth birthday. She’s had difficulty learning to balance a regular two-wheeler. I hoped this would be a fun, cool way to get her moving. And it was! She took the bike right away.
But keeping her safe turned out to be much harder than I imagined. We only rode in enclosed areas but she still found a way to streets with cars. I tried many times to demonstrate the boundaries, to no avail. She seemed to have no sense for the danger and I spent most of the time running after her, shouting her name with my heart in my throat.
I thought about getting myself a skateboard to try and keep up with her (and for some reason every person I mentioned the idea to laughed!)
One day I took the girls to a paved area at a local college. Rhema pedaled around the quad with Hope riding her bike close behind and I jogged alongside. Things were going well and Rhema stayed on the path; eventually I slowed my pace. Rhema veered off the path, around a corner and out of my sight. Hope took off after her and I started my typical running and yelling. I had a feeling she was headed for the main road. When I got there Hope’s bike was thrown down by the side of the road. Rhema’s trike was in the road but she wasn’t on it. Apparently Hope had yelled for her to stop and Rhema had stopped right there and gotten off her trike. Only she was standing there in the middle of the street refusing to move, her arm over her eyes.
When Hope saw cars approaching she ran into the street and began pushing Rhema out of the street. That’s the scene burned into my memory forever. My seven-year old pushing my ten-year old out of the street, step by step. The cars came to a stop while I retrieved my children and then dragged the trike out of the road.
(Dear sweet Hope, if you read this someday, know that the Bible says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Thank you for your great love.)
That put an end to Rhema’s bike riding (in my mind, for a very long time).
Recently I recounted the story to Rhema and Hope’s grandparents. I told them I couldn’t take Rhema riding unless there were at least 3 adults present – all strategically positioned. (Two friends did this with me once and it blessed me to see them running after Rhema like madwomen!) I told them I thought I’d made the wrong choice in getting the trike. That I should have gotten a tandem bike instead – that way I could ride with her and keep her safe.
A couple days later they called and told me to order a tandem bike for Rhema – it would be their gift.
This week they’re visiting us from Michigan, and the new bike arrived. Rhema enjoys it, and the bike is perfect for the two of us. My father in law put a mirror on the handlebars so I can see her behind me. We spent yesterday riding together and I’m so pleased to be able to share this with her! She hummed the whole time and periodically patted my back. Now we can safely go bike riding as a family.
There is much suffering and strife in the world. This is small in the grand scheme of things. But as a mother I am grateful that my girls can enjoy safe, fun, free childhood days. I’m thankful for family and friends who help us think outside the box for Rhema. The excitement doesn’t always show on her face, she doesn’t say thank you or even seem to look up. But you can see the happy in her secret grin and hear it in the song she hums, and that means more than any words can say.
Thank you Grandma and Grandpa!