Raising Modern Boys Wild


Raising Modern Boys

Two years ago, my husband and I sold our first home with its 12 foot square yard, and prioritized our new house search with the biggest yard we could afford for our sons. Our oldest was only two going on three, but we could already see the effects of not having the freedom and safety to run outside on a whim. Along with the pallor of a ghost and an abhorrence of dirt, anytime we would drive by a field of bovines, he would scream, “Cows!” like we were in the Museum of Natural History’s extinct animal exhibit. Fortunately, we found one of the only pieces of property in Chattanooga that has a truly flat yard and our boys’ future was saved.

And now, I am still waiting for the wild men to come out. We have no problem with energy—that, I may take less of on any given day—but the urge to be free, to be on an adventure, to be completely covered in mud because it was there! This has not happened yet. They have been liberally supplied with all the necessary adventurous tools—a garage full of vehicles, basketballs continually getting lost under our cars, water tables, shovels, handy raised beds full of luscious dirt and…bikes.

What child doesn’t dream of their first bike? In my own family of eight siblings, bikes were more precious than shoes. If we had to race out the door without proper footwear but made it to the best working bike first, ours was the glory. Bikes were our freedom to my dad’s shop, the barn, a friend’s house, the nearest Dollar General with a treasure trove of cheap candy and pop. Woe to the one who’s chain broke and who had to push it home, taking so much of the precious time that could be spent being wild and free. All these memories came flooding back to me as I began to plant the thought in my eldest’s head that he should want a bike for his fourth birthday.

What I believe finally got the idea to stick was the phrase Ninja Turtle bike. He may have not known exactly was he was missing in a bike, but he knew if he was missing something Ninja Turtle-esque because he already had everything else. The excitement on birthday-day was catching. I have never allowed myself to spend so much on a present, especially for my own children, whose motto of Seek and Destroy applies to any item in our home, but it was his first bike! I envisioned hours of races up and down our driveway, shaky ramps made from a paint bucket and old plywood, skinned knees and the mixed emotions of losing my dependent little toddler into a big boy. This will do it, I told myself, this will change our modern-child-who-hates-dirt-and-sweat-and-having-to-create-his-own-adventure in to a Tom Sawyer who won’t want to come in for dinner.

I’ll tell you, that bike is the cleanest, most well-preserved toy that has been in our family for six months. I may have made a mistake in letting [making] him go down the gentle slope on our driveway and not catching him when he crashed (with a helmet, people!!) onto the asphalt. I got the skinned knee alright, but I have to beg and be ever-present to get that child to ride his bike. The slope is completely off limits and turning is equivalent to me parallel parking downtown on Broad Street. We thought that getting one for the middle child would push them both to enjoy bicycling together, but they promptly stripped off the Jake and the Never-land Pirate treasure chest off of the handle bars, fought over it for a couple days and left the poor bikes to sit in the garage for the past three months.

So, my quest continues. As the weather begins to warm (or perhaps snow, who knows in East Tennessee?), I am dreaming of days where I completely forget the words to Paw Patrol’s theme song, we have to eat on the back porch because of the dew/dirt/water/mud/grass stained shorts, brown little arms and legs that are scratched and boo-booed from the day’s mishaps and triumphs, ready for a soft bed at moon rise.

And bike rides. Many, many bike rides and maybe—maaayyybeee— by the end of the summer, we will go down the slope, on to a great many more adventures.

To summertime, mothers!


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