Saturday was another beautiful day, with Mother Nature giving us another sign that we are finally leaving the death grip of winter behind. The eight year old got his bike out of the garage, and to our surprise it was still intact. (One of the dogs is notorious for ripping items to shreds.) He tried to ride around the circle in front of the house, but was having difficulties. His winter legs aren't quite strong enough yet. You see, we live at the end of a 1/4 mile long gravel driveway. When we bought the house, we intended to pave it. We knew it would be a significant cost, but we were willing to do it for the kids, as well as to make winter easier. We forgot that we also have a grain bin on the property that is rented by a local farmer. Twice a year, semis come and go for two days to fill or empty the grain bin. They would completely ruin a paved driveway. So much for that idea. We still have the gravel.
One of our favorite things to do at the old house was to go for a walk. The two older kids would ride bikes, the third would ride his little tricycle, and I would push the littlest in the stroller. Our first week in the new home, we decided to try a walk down to the quaint little square near the end of our drive. It's a perfect place to ride bikes, with a little church and about 20 houses. There are stop signs all around the square, and the speed limit sign is in our front yard, so we knew cars wouldn't be going over 30 mph. The kids hopped on their bikes, put their feet on their peddles, and immediately fell over. For six and five year olds, gravel is not fun to ride on. But we perservered. We decided to just walk the bikes to the end of the drive and continue on our walk. Ok, a 1/4 mile walk pushing three bikes and a stroller is not easy, but it would be worth it, right?
Fifteen minutes later, we made it to the end of the drive. We were on our way! Just as we were approaching the quaint little square of houses, a car came flying by, sending us all into the ditch on the side of the road. I actually screamed, seeing the scene of my children being run over going through my head. Apparantly, some people in the country drive really fast until they have to slam on their brakes to stop. And they don't have the decency to move over to give the pedestrians room to walk either.
But, we were alive, and closer to the square than our house, so we kept on going. We had a great time, walking and riding and playing on the playground at the church. We turned to go home and stuck nice and close to the side of the road. We safely reached our drive, and realized our last horrible mistake. We live at the top of a hill. We had to push the three bikes and the stroller and drag three kids up a 1/4 mile gravel drive up a stinkin' hill. Not one of us was in a good mood by the time we collapsed back in the house.
Since then, our third and fourth children learned to ride bikes at their friends' houses. This past summer they were all good enough at riding that they could actually ride on the gravel circle. That is, of course, until we had to get new gravel. It's REALLY hard to ride bikes on a new layer of gravel. With the drought of 2010, they were able to ride on the grass/dirt with minimal injuries from the numerous holes dug by the dogs and moles. They were (mostly) happy.
But, as I watched my eight year old try to ride his bike yesterday, I almost cried. I know we gave them so very much when we moved to this house, but we took away the one thing all kids should have; the chance to ride a bike any time they like. So, I of course told everyone to hop in the van. I drove to the nearest school, where he could ride to his heart's content.
As a former photographer, you'd think I would keep my camera handy, where I wouldn't forget it when I have photo opportunities. Alas, I forgot my camera. Maybe I'll get one next time. In the meantime, you'll just have to picture his happy little face, with the wind in his hair, as he went round and round that parking lot.
Have a lovely day!