A wee sacrifice to get them away from the Wii
The pain, fear and humiliation were worth it, though, because it resulted from the most fun I've had in months.
I rode a bike yesterday, for the first time in a decade. I wobbled at first but survived in the end because that old cliche about "it's like riding a bike" is true. Even if I'd emerged bloodied and bruised, I'd do it all over again if for no other reason than reminding the guys that there's life beyond the big square in the living room that brings electronic amusement to their fingertips.
Yes, the guys got a Wii for Christmas and in the week since we got home they've teetered on turning into the type of kids who drive me nuts. You know, the ones who want to sit in front of screens all day every day and never do all the things they used to do in the days before the gaming system entered their lives.
In the Pre-Wii era Big Guy begged to play outside every afternoon, coming in reluctantly only when Dad and dark fall insisted. Post-Wii, he instead begged to finish one more level.
I griped. I cajoled. I laid down the law and demanded that they turn off the Wii. They did, only to start whining again in an hour or so.
Once again tired of hearing myself nag, I knew I needed to come up with a better plan that didn't involve foisting an expensive piece of electronics out the window.
"Come on, guys," I said. "Let's go for a walk."
"Nah," said Big Guy. If you say "Wii," I thought, I'm going to throw it and you out the window. "I want to ride bikes."
"Great idea!" I said.
Bad idea, I thought.
I'd had the bike since November, courtesy of the same family who gave us Eloise Laptop Cheezit. It's a lovely shade of lavender, which cracks up the guys. "You have a girly bike! You have a girly bike!" Big Guy taunted.
It's also way more bike than I wanted. A seven-speed all-terrain with linear brakes - a term that I quickly learned translates to "locks up quickly."
And shift gears on a bike? I can't even do that on a car. The last time I'd tried to ride a seven-speed, I soared quickly into the shrubs.
I longed for the bright red bike I'd pedaled over hills and along railroad tracks as a kid. I knew how to stop it without interference from a tree. You simply pedal backwards. What's with these hand brakes? Does the left or right one control the rear? Too much to remember. Arrggghhhh.
The guys gazed expectantly as I wheeled the bike to a flat path near our house. My palms sweated and I tried to remember how to work the gears. Do I want a high number or a low number? Aw, never mind. Just do it.
"What if you crash?" Big Guy asked.
"Then I crash. That happens sometimes when you're learning."
"But I thought you know how to ride," Boots added, worried.
"I do, but this bike is more complicated than what I used to ride."
"Don't worry, Mommy. If you get hurt, I know the number for the police. It's 9-1-1," Big Guy said.
"Maybe you could use my training wheels," Boots offered.
With those votes of confidence, I got on. I quickly fell off. I got back on, but this time my balance had magically returned. I pedaled one stroke, two, three ... Whaddya know! I'm riding! I'm riding! I'm soaring, just like back in the days of my bright-red beauty. I'm 12 again, with the wind at my face and not a care in the world.
"Race you!" Big Guy smiled. Several tree branches later, he, of course, won. I still couldn't figure out the gears.
It was almost dark when we went inside.
My butt hurt, and I vowed to replace the seat when I finally find a bike shop to work on the front brakes. My thighs screamed at the unaccustomed exertion, and I vowed to do it again the next day, and the day after that until they quit griping at me.
"Can we ride tomorrow, Mommy? Please!" Big Guy asked.
He didn't mention the Wii the rest of the night.
Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.