My son was in his typical fight-it-like-hell stance, begging us not to drag him into some extended family activity. The argument inspired my daughter to do the same. We want nothing to do with your ideas, they informed us. Computer games and iPods lurked along the sidelines.
Of course my wife and I are the bosses, and we stopped asking them what they wanted to do and told them instead. “All right, let’s go for a bike ride on the Cady Way Trail near downtown,” I said. “It will be fun for all of us. I promise.”
After the prelude of pumping tires and adjusting helmets and filling water bottles and driving across town, we set out on our bikes, sunshine on our faces and a breeze pressing our cheeks. And damned if I didn’t see smiles all around. There were moments of frustration and rebellion, like when my daughter decided she had had enough (only to resume riding quickly afterwards) and when my son began sighing with great pangs of pain, “I’m so hungry. Are we almost done?”
But we made it. Seven miles together on our bikes. Under a gift-from-God clear Saturday sky. “Hey daddy,” my son called to me from behind as we neared our parked minivan. “I did have a little bit of fun riding. Just wanted you to know.”
Great, I told him, thinking to myself “I told you so.” Later, at lunch, I asked if anyone had a good time on our bike ride, and the kids threw up their hands, like they were answering a question in class. “I did,” they said, almost in unison.
There’s not much of a lesson here, I guess, other than never give in to a kid – or give up on a good idea. Especially when you know what’s best for those little rascals. Oh, and when you don’t know what else to do, get outside and ride your bike!