Sarah Kate has done an admirable job over the years of integrating herself into Typical Kid Culture.
She was the one who requested to join swim team and she was the one who asked to play softball. For all of our declarations that she needs to get used to being part of the typical world, Mr. Andi and I were still wary of allowing her into some areas where we knew she’d be at an obvious disadvantage.
When I was growing up, I had only one sibling – a sister ten years younger – and we lived in the boonies so there was no one for me to play with. Although Mr. Andi’s dream is to have a big piece of land with room to roam, I have always been adamant that we MUST raise our children in a neighborhood with other kids, and he took to heart the old saying that “if Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” and obliged me.
Sarah Kate has friends in the neighborhood and I love that they can roam freely, meandering among each other’s yards and going in and out of each other’s houses. But one image has continually pricked at this wounded mom’s heart – the image of bicycles parked out front. Although Sarah Kate had the technical ability to ride a bike, it wasn’t a practical option for her so she rarely did, and even then only when accompanied by a parent.
Not exactly conducive to romping around the neighborhood with your peers.
As I mentioned last Thursday, she got her new three-wheel bike on Wednesday night. Knowing she’d want to ride again as soon as she got home from school, I headed to Wal-Mart on Thursday morning to look for something she could use to secure her feet to the pedals. I found some Velcro straps that looked like they’d work, and attached them to the pedals before she got home.
Sure enough, she asked to ride as soon as she got off the bus and I walked outside with her to get her set up. As she left the driveway and turned onto our street, Neighbor Girl C turned onto our street, riding her bike. She eased up next to Sarah Kate and a moment later Sarah Kate asked if she could ride over to the next street. I gave her my blessing, nervous though I was, advising her to watch for cars and be careful.
Our next door neighbor had just walked outside to check his mailbox and inquired about Sarah Kate’s new wheels. As the two of us watched the girls riding away from us, he said, “You know what that is? That’s freedom.”
The enormity of the moment crashed over me like a tidal wave.
It is freedom. But it’s so much more. That three wheel bike places her on even footing with her peers. When she is riding the bike, she looks no different than any other kid on a bike.
I chatted with my neighbor for a few more minutes, then went around to the back of the house and settled into a chair on the back porch to write this post. We live on a corner lot with a picket fence, so at regular intervals I could hear and see them ride by. After a short time, the two girls became three riders – Neighbor Boy S had joined them – and though I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying, I could tell from the timbre of their voices that they were enjoying themselves.