Antique Embarrassment, Sometimes Sweet

Pedaling Away From Me

Sean has a birthday coming up soon and his father and I have promised him a bicycle. So for the last month or so, every time we go to Wal-Mart, which is just about every day, we have to go to the bike department and test drive the various models.

If you have spent any time in the Wal-Mart bicycle department, then you know that as well as having a few floor models “on the floor” they also display them by hanging them from the front tire by a hook. If you have a child, then you also know that the one bike they want to test drive is not on the floor, but hanging from a hook.

Yesterday we were in Wal-Mart and we weren’t in a hurry, so when Sean asked me if I would get him a certain bike down from a hook, I agreed.

Removing those little 20-pound bikes from their hooks is not as easy as it looks.

In order to get the bike he wanted, I had to bend over slightly so as to not bump my head on the bike suspended directly above it. And then in some sort of Tom Cruise Mission Impossible style move, I had to delicately lift and turn the wheel just so at just the right angle at just the right moment in just the right sequence without gouging my eye out with the handle bar of the neighboring bike or knocking down the entire display of floor models like a line of dominos. Although that would have been a classic Antique Mommy moment. But the bike on the hook, it wouldn’t budge. It was like it had been super glued to the hook. So I did what I always do when something doesn’t work – I jiggled it and then I jiggled it harder.

When it finally began to give, I straightened up just a bit so that I could raise it up and off the hook. And that’s when the strap of my backpack purse caught on a bicycle that was hanging behind me. And I was kind of stuck. I wasn’t exactly suspended, but I was on my tip toes and I was tethered and I kind of felt like a guy in a parachute caught in a tree. And I felt mighty ridiculous. And so I began praying. “Dear kind and merciful God, please, I beg of you, don’t let any of my neighbors or anyone I know be anywhere near the bicycle department right now. And also, please God, let the security cameras not be working. Thank you and Amen.”

So then.

I put the bike back on its hook and then I tried to reach around and unhook myself. After a good bit of flapping and twisting, it became apparent to me and the little boy who found the whole scene extreeeemely amusing, that I can no longer access that area between my shoulder blades as I could in days of yore and youth.

Then in a move that normally should be reserved for someone wearing sequins and featured on Dancing with the Stars — and never by a mom in a Wal-Mart — I did a little shoulder shimmy and wiggled myself free of the backpack. Just like Houdini.

Sean squealed and clapped his hands when I finally got his bike down and then he hopped on it and gleefully took a few wobbly laps around the bicycle aisle hollering for all the store to hear, “Look at me Mom! Look at me!”

And the sight of that nearly four-year-old boy gleefully pedaling away from me, so happy and so proud to be riding a big bike, put an ostrich egg in my throat.  I stood in the bike department of Wal-Mart trying not to cry.  The journey of his life has begun and every day in some small way, he is pedaling away from me.

38 thoughts on “Pedaling Away From Me

  1. We’re just tricycling away here, but I get the same lump.

    I think the toy aisle at Wal-mart was designed for the enticement of children and the humiliation of parents.

  2. And some days they pedal so far in one go that you have to fight the urge to reel them back in so they can’t grow up. And the lumps in your throat, they get bigger and they last longer.

  3. Oy! When my son turned five I cried for a solid week, I mean locking myself in the bathroom and sobbing crying.

    What is it about Wal-Mart that brings out the klutz in so many of us? A few years ago I was bashed in the forehead by a pile of runaway jumbo diaper packs, in a maneuver I like to call “DIY Chiropractic.”

  4. The pedal changes from a bike pedal to a car pedal. That stinks!
    My young son (who looked alot like Sean about 14 years ago) is now applying to college. The lump in my throat is a permanent fixture this year.

  5. I have 4 boys…oldest called me earlier today to tell me how long the wait is for his ‘babies’…he and daughter (in-law) are expecting twins any minute….those lumps NEVER go away.

  6. That is one of the great ironies of parenting. First we give them roots. Then we have to teach them how to fly. We have the unenviable task of teaching the ones we love most how to be successful at leaving us.

    Sean is so lucky to have you for his mommy. And you are lucky to have Sean, and to have learned the big lesson right away: enjoy them while you have them.

    When my kids were small, my mom always used to tell me that these years when they were little were the golden years. With three in diapers at one time, I thought she was a little on the wrong side of crazy. But now, I’m singing her song to my kids.

  7. My mother sent me pajamas with shiny sequined gold stars on them for my birthday. She told me it was because I was her little star. On my 43rd birthday.

    There was a time I would have rolled my eyes and put them in the bottom of a drawer. Not anymore. I wear them happily because I understand now the beauty and the pain of motherhood – how we can be so proud of our children’s accomplishments at the same time our hearts are breaking.

  8. Oh, those bittersweet moments when their new skills and interests don’t seem nearly so exciting as sad!

    I’m right there with you… Yesterday my brand-new 3 year old took off down the sidewalk with her 3 big brothers on her very own,shiny, new Dora scooter. They had told her something about “getting her license.” Her technique, while very cute, is not so speedy yet, so it was no problem at all for me to keep up with her as I walked behind. She kept looking back over her shoulder and looking a little dismayed or frustrated. Then it dawned on me: she’s trying fervently to LOSE me here!Finally she just spelled it out for me: “You stay here. Don’t walk. I’m going to get my license.” Oh, no. Noooo…

  9. they are riding away—-my oldest turned 17 yesterday and my youngest turned double digits about 10 days ago—-

    I can’t wait to read your blog when it’s learner’s permits and cars that Sean is driving. I pray so hard to be patient. He tells me I yell too much (even after the fervent prayers!) and he says that he’s pretty sure it’s not helpful if I yell! (But OTOH if he put on the brake when I told him to stop!!!!!! Do you think I’m going to run into that car mom?????)

  10. Ummmm…just when you figure you have the “letting go” thing down pat, they pull another one on you.
    My son moved out of the house a month ago. Then he got engaged.’ve been an item over a year).
    Oh, I’d be happy for him – except for the dagger in my heart.
    Moms, this is the ultimate growing up thing to happen. Wasn’t it just a few days/months/years ago he was my little boy riding his tricycle? Wasn’t he just down the hall in our homeschool? My firstborn! Born – I remember when he was born, 22 years ago. Am I THAT old?
    Thankfully, I have some more at home….but then I have to have more pieces of my heart ripped out as they leave too.
    Sorry. I’m a bit traumatized.

  11. I can so relate. Now I have a lump in my throat. My mama told me not to blink, and now my little boy DRIVES away from me every morning on his way to school.
    Thanks for another great story.

  12. I am constantly amazed at how you can have me laughing out loud so hard and then send tears to my eyes in the next sentence. Thanks for writing!

  13. Oh friend, the day they drive away without you in the car is a true heartbreaker.
    God makes them so that they grow up. I’m not sure about why, but that’s how He makes them.

  14. Well, it’s true that opposites attract. While Sean’s yelling that for you look at him, you’re praying that all of WalMart will clear out… NOW. You know those camera guys zoomed in a little closer, don’t you?

    Yep, mine are pedaling away on a 10 speed and BMX, with no signs of stopping…

  15. I’m still laughing at the thought of you suspended ‘twixt heaven and earth, on a bike rack in Walmart. That’s keeping me away from any lumps in throat business–I get enough of that from my own kids, thank you!

  16. Hey, I think you just shoved that egg into my throat! Stop that! 😉

    Heh, I bet the sound of joy you heard was worth the semi-impalement.

    And ha! I also don’t want anyone to witness my “finer moments,” unless I get to type them up and display them in my own time!

  17. Not related in any way to this post at all, but since you live in the general vicinity, thought you would enjoy knowing about Mainstay Farm. It is just south of Ft.Worth and it is heaven on earth to a little boy. A hay jumping barn, big slide, hay ride and a three story tree house with swings all around. They have a website.

  18. You did it again…you had me laughing out loud, and then you brought tears to my eyes. It’s so hard to watch them grow up and away, isn’t it? My oldest son is a freshman in college this year. He was home this past weekend for a visit. When he was leaving on Sunday to go back to school, it took every ounce of self-control that I have to not scream “Don’t go! Stay here with me!”. I’m so proud of the wonderful man he has become, and I’m so glad that he’s enjoying college, but gosh, I miss him.

  19. You are wise to understand that he will continue to pedal away and that it is your job to find the joy in his journey. Great stuff.

    Word of advice about cheap bikes though, they don’t hold up. So if you think he may be hard on it or ride it a lot, spend a few more bucks on the upgrade. I learned the hard way.

  20. You made me laugh out loud (so now my coworkers think I’m insane laughing on my own) and then end up all teary. It’s hard to let them grow.

  21. Once again you got me. I’ll have to work my way up to a bicycle, my two are on trikes now and to see them fly around …

    I knew there was a reason why I have steered clear of backpack purses.

  22. Oh how fast they grow up and pedal away.

    My triplets turned three years old two days ago. We let them play on tricyles in the Wal-Mart aisle. Big Mistake. They weren’t just pedaling away, they were running and disappeared on us! Three against one is hard! More of them than of me.


  23. When do we go from being their hero to getting on their nerves? My ten year old quietly says to me “Mom, stop, I’ll be fine” when I fret over him.

  24. Do you ever find that the posts (and bloggers) you like the most are the ones you can’t comment on, because you can’t think of a comment that seems worthy of them?

    I loved this post.

  25. What I love is that you are aware of these things, and you take everything in and cherish it.

    You will not be one of those mothers who looks back when it’s too late wishing she’d spent more time appreciating her child when he was young.

  26. Oh, man. I have written at length about my 18 year-old son starting college this fall. Sigh. Just yesterday he was pedaling away. You are smart to take lots of pics and be totally impressed with his inhaling and exhaling and blinking, etc.

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