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For as Long as He Asks Me To

He asked me to ride with him.

I said yes, though inside my mind was spinning like a hamster-driven wheel.

When school started up this year … Little Man’s first year of high school … I expected our mornings together to be much shorter, certain they would end at the door with a quick wave as he pedaled away. He’s 14 and not so little anymore … taller than I am, and I’m pretty tall.

So, when he asked me to bike with him that first morning, I questioned myself … my parenting. Am I a helicopter mom? Have I coddled too much? Have I failed to prepare him, to foster independence?

I questioned the situation and the consequences of my possible failures. Is he nervous about going? That he won’t make friends? Is he worried he’ll take the wrong path? Have I hindered his self-confidence? Am I a crutch?

Then, a bit of common sense was able to muster its way through my sleepy mind. Of course, he knows the way. Of course, he’s a little nervous. It’s his first day of high school. EVERYONE is nervous on their first day of high school. Especially if they are still pretty new to the area.

As we peddled along that very first morning, chatting about the wildlife we encountered on the path, my mind wandered back to the early years of biking to school together … Elementary school, when his piggyback bike trailed behind mine. Then, having him ride ahead so I could see him when he finally admitted he knew how to ride his own bike (long, funny story spanning many years. If you are curious:;

We ended our ride with my goodbye.

“Have a great day at school!'”

Followed by a laugh and his reply.

“You can’t make me!”

Yeah, he got my wiseass gene for sure.

And, it struck me that he didn’t seem nervous at all.

The next morning, I asked if he wanted to ride alone.

“Nope, you can come,” he said, once again spurring my inner-mom worries.

Aren’t high school kids supposed to not want to be seen with their moms?

It’s not my first … or even second rodeo. And, though it hurt in a they’re-growing-up-so-quickly kind of way, I tried not to take it personally when the other two asked me to drop them off a little farther from the school or to wait in the car when picking them up. I knew it was a sign of independence and self-discovery.

Was I doing something wrong the third time around?

Off we went once again, chatting and riding.

It struck me that the ride itself was different … changing. Now, he was the one slowing down for me (thank you stupid meniscus). Now, he was giving me info on creatures we encountered … things I did not know.

And so our morning rides continued.

Back-to-school night rolled around and I saw no sign of the shy little kid who, thanks to fluid hanging out in his ears, started his school career with a speech impediment. The young man before me now walked into his classrooms with confidence and poise, politely introduced me to his teachers, plopped down next to new friends as if they’d known each other forever. No confidence issues there.

Have I solved the mystery of why he asks me to bike with him in the morning?

Turns out, he enjoys our morning bike rides … not because he needs me … but simply just because.

And, though it requires a rather early alarm and a bit more effort on my part now that he can clearly bike faster and stronger than I can (shhh, don’t tell him I sometimes have to use the assist mode on my old e-bike to keep up on the hills), I’ll do it for as long as he asks.

Because, I, too, enjoy our morning bike rides. Especially now that I no longer question them.

I’m not naive. I know a day will come when he won’t ask. Or, maybe he’ll let me know he’ll be biking with someone else in the morning.

But, that just makes me love and appreciate our morning bike rides all the more.

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