On most Saturday mornings, Elijah, Luca and I go on little bike riding adventures down to the lakefront. We ride around looking at all the old women who stake their claims to picnic tables for family reunions hours later. I let the boys leap on the graffiti rocks and give them the choice of any restaurant they want for lunch. They always choose Potbelly's. Always.
We have a pretty good safety routine. At every intersection, I will shout, “Straight!” or, “Left!” as loud as I can. Then Eli will shout, “What?” I’ll shout back the answer and Luca will shout, “What?” This goes on until we are through the intersection.
It’s all very fun and I’m 50% sure I am giving the boys some great, sepia toned memories that will compete with all the memories where I yell at them for something dumb.
But I felt like we were missing something. A certain wine-goddess something. Ever since she saw a young Asian girl get hit by a bike on the lakefront path and her bone stuck out of her leg, Diana has been anti-bike. She simply thinks bike riding is too dangerous.
A couple Sundays ago, it was gorgeous outside and the path was calling to us (me). I shoved the boys at Diana with their cutest faces on and made them beg Diana to join us.
Diana was unconvinced. “I think my tires are flat.”
“Nope. Just filled them.”
“I think my brakes are broken.”
“Nope. We fixed them.”
After 30 or 40 minutes looking for the same helmets and bike locks we misplace every single week, we hit the road. I went very, very slowly so Diana would get comfortable with our system.
We rode downtown and stuck to the big green bike lane. Nothing too nutso. I think I even heard Diana say, “Whee.”
I led us to a stop at Davis street, single file and waited for the light to turn. Diana said, “Eli, you can go up by dad.”
But what Eli heard was, “Eli, you can go.”
Eli darted out into traffic. I shouted, “Stop!” over and over with increasing volume in the hopes that would make a difference. Luckily, the only car on the road saw this debacle a half mile away and slowed to a stop.
I took this opportunity to scream at Eli about looking both ways. Our family clustered in the intersection and the car waited patiently for the terrible father to finish yelling.
I ushered us to the other side and we rode in silence. At the next intersection, Eli lost control of his bike and he slid into the street, where a giant white SUV turned right. I screamed again and Eli slunk his head into his shoulders.
Diana mouthed the words, “Never again,” to me.
Eventually we made it home and I apologized to everyone for losing my temper. We put our bikes in the garage and leaded Diana’s up against the wall, where it will remain forever.