Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Monday, April 4, 2011

Baby you can drive my car...

Several years ago, our twin daughters were invited to a biking party in Central Park. They were around 8 years old the first year they were invited to this child's party and were really into their Razor scooters at the time. Since they didn't know how to ride two wheelers, they opted to join in the fun on scooters instead. More power to them! Actually, they really could have used more power. They had to work twice as hard as the kids on bikes and still couldn't keep up.

Jeff and I were a little embarrassed that none of our kids (they were 9, 9 and 11 at the time) knew how to ride a two-wheeler. Neither one of us could remember a time when we didn't know how to ride a two-wheeler. Riding around the neighborhood with friends was a big part of our childhood. Life was different for our Manhattanite children. Without a quiet cul-de-sac or a deserted mall parking lot to practice, we just never found the opportunity to teach them to ride. As a result, they never felt the wind in their hair or the rush as they sped down a hill or the thrill when you lift both hands off the bar. When the same child invited them to another party in Central Park a year later, though, they were determined to learn how to ride bicycles. So a week before the Central Park birthday party, we rented bikes, brought them to a park near our home and taught each of the three girls to ride. They learned remarkably quickly and we started to dream about family bicycle trips. We hastily returned to the bike shop and bought bikes for each of the kids on the spot. The following week, our girls dazzled their friends as they rode laps around Central Park on their new sparkling two-wheelers. Shortly after that, we rode through the park together on a weekend. And that was it. Since the brief time that we were enchanted by our romanticized vision of bicycle rides, the bikes have laid dormant in the storage area of our apartment building. I can't say for sure that any of us will ever ride a bike again. Curiously, though, I'm glad everyone knows how. Certain skills are imperative and the fact that you live in Manhattan should not be a reason to miss out on anything!

Now that we have a 15-year old, the "set of wheels" discussion has taken on a whole new meaning. I remember one of my first "born and bred" New York friends telling me several years ago that he had never learned to drive a car. I remember thinking that was crazy and yet, now that I have a child on the verge, I sometimes find myself wondering if it really is necessary. After all, if she really needs to get anywhere, we have a perfectly good bicycle with her name on it downstairs in the storage locker! To that 15-year old, I say, "Just kidding sweetie". She knows her time will come. And we all know that there's something to be said for putting your pedal to the metal!

Few children's book characters capture the energy and thrill as you transition from bicycle to car (albeit soap box derby car) like the inimitable Babymouse. BabyMouse Burns Rubber, book number 12 in the series created by the sensational sister-brother duo of Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, is a finalist for the 3rd to 4th Grade Book of the Year in this year's Children's Choice Book Awards. This is the second Babymouse book to make it in as a finalist in the four years of this program. It's hard not to love Babymouse! In this installment, Babymouse, encouraged by her friend Wilson, decides to realize her dreams of becoming a race car driver. She is self-absorbed, high maintenance and easily distracted but she has a strong moral compass and, ultimately, is the best kind of friend. Long love Babymouse!

1 comment:

  1. I've been thinking about investing in a new bike - especially if I move downtown. The only road block is that Toronto is not the most bike-friendly city, if memory serves. Biking in the ravines is fine, but I'm less certain about biking in traffic. I would imagine that Manhattan is much the same and I wouldn't want to drive there much either. I'm glad my cousins know how to ride bikes! Biking in Central Park sounds lovely. I also like your response to the 'set of wheels' question! & as for Babymouse, I'm intrigued! If only I had a 4th grader to read to. Maybe my 2 and a half year old nephew would enjoy it? Loving your posts, R xo m