My son just got a dirt bike. He’s 15.
Apparently, my husband and I lost our minds at the exact same moment. I knew we were slowly driving each other crazy over the years, but I never thought we’d simultaneously snap.
Because of our mental lapses, our son now has a shiny new dirt bike. Well, it was shiny for the trip home and for a brief time in the garage. Then, he rode it. Now, it has a nice scrape along the side, and both signal lights have been demolished. Oh, and he’s proudly sporting a skinned elbow and knee.
We live in the country which gives my son plenty of grass to ride on, and for that, I’m grateful. Of course, when he crashed the first time, he was turning around on the concrete driveway. Funny how that works.
I had a flashback to my own childhood as I watched him tearing across the yard a few days ago. I was raised on a farm and we were around dangerous equipment all the time. I was a kid when seatbelts didn’t exist unless you had one of those “fancy” cars, and even then they were usually buckled and stuffed between the seat cushions. We rode in backs of pickup trucks and sitting on sides of a tractor. We stood on the running board of the big grain trucks as we bumped and jostled our way down to the grain bins or out to the cattle pasture. When the family drove to the swimming hole (yes, that’s what we called it), my dad would put a board across the bed of his truck for kids to sit on. And, the day it hailed on us … well, we just held up the big towel Mom threw back there for us to use as shelter.
Which makes me wonder? How did we survive?
Believe me, I’m not advocating riding in a car with no seat belt or putting kids in the back of a truck. It’s a different time. Things are faster and there are more cars on the roads. The world seems more stressed. The only road rage I ever knew about in my childhood was when you were driving down a dirt road and the car coming toward you didn’t ease over enough and give you both room to pass. And, even then, the road rage manifested itself with only a curt nod to the other person … no smile, no howdy.
Believe me, I’m as cautious as the next parent. When my son was growing up, I dutifully put him in a car seat. I walked him to school to protect him from strangers and I didn’t turn him loose to play in the neighborhood sight unseen. I don’t believe it takes a village to raise a child, I believe it takes parents.
But, now he’s a teenager and has a dirt bike. There’s no car seat on that thing. He is required to wear a helmet, not only be me, but by state law. Thank goodness.
Like it or not, I see that he’s growing up. He’s taller than my husband, wears a bigger shoe, and he’s shaving. I can’t always protect him. He has to be given responsibility to make wise decisions. All I can do is keep medical supplies handy … and pray.
Any parents out there who’ve been down the dirt bike trail with their kids? I could use some advice.
- Guest contributor, Judy Hooper, The Oklahoman