My 7-year-old son, Magnus, started second grade last week. The first day was an especially momentous occasion, as this was his school's official grand opening--the smell of fresh paint, new carpet and children's futures wafting through the recently erected halls. It was also a memorable day because Magnus and hundreds of his fellow classmates biked to campus. Most students live just under two miles from the school, so we are required to provide our own transportation. And what better way to get there than by bike?
Except that on the first day of school, I didn't own a bike. And didn't plan to own a bike (other than my stationary indoor cycle). But I wanted to chaperone Magnus to school to help him navigate this new adventure. I figured I would just jog with the pack of kids who ride together, at least for the first few weeks while they learned the routine. And that's what I did...the first morning. It was truly a meaningful experience watching this parade of elementary and middle school kids, clad in colorful backpacks and helmets, processing into a new year of learning at a gleaming, modern facility. Norman Rockwell would have been proud of this Small Town, USA, moment.
I jogged back home after releasing my little bird to the academic world, feeling thankful for such a positive start. Once I caught my breath, I also recalibrated my plans to run alongside the kiddos before and after school. For one thing, I don't love jogging. It's boring. It's a slow way to get somewhere. And it's killer on the joints. For another, I can't keep up with the bikes. Nope. Not even while wearing a pair of my super-duper-light-as-a-feather-ready-for-anything-neon-colored Nike running shoes.
With that, I knew what I had to do--get myself a set of wheels, and fast. But what kind? There are so many choices...so many expensive choices, and all I needed was something easy, functional, and affordable. Oh, and cute. REALLY cute. With a matching helmet. And a bell. I gotta have a bell. And while I'm at it, I'd love a cupholder and storage space (Oops, I'm talking about a bike, not a car!).
I realize this is a lot to ask for, especially by a gal who hasn't owned a bike since I rode to school on a bright yellow cruiser in the second grade. Wait! That's it! I decided to hearken back to my elementary years and get an easy-to-ride cruiser. By the second day of school, I found a sweet deal on the perfect bike: a gloss blue retro Huffy cruiser, complete with basket on the front, cupholder and rear rack for storage! Of course, I completed it with a polka-dotted bell and color-coordinated helmet.
As I rode (and wobbled...they say you never forget how to ride a bike, but that was doubtful for the first few spins around the block!) to school to pick up my son, then followed he and fellow riders home, I was reminded of riding my bike as a child. The wind in my hair. The freedom of movement. The spirit of adventure. I was rediscovering a little piece of my youth, and calling upon my body--now three decades older--to have muscle memory, to use my core for an exercise other than planks, squats, lunges, and pushups, and to engage in a new shared physical activity with my child.
This moment is why I work so hard to stay fit and healthy. To keep up with my ever growing boys. To be the parent who can ride alongside them, show them that you're never too old to be active, and to participate in their journey. Then to embarrass them by ringing that bell every chance I get!!
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Is there an activity that you loved doing as a child, but gave it up for one reason or another? Perhaps dance, tennis, rollerblading or basketball? Would you like to try it again? What's keeping you from it and how can you overcome the obstacle(s)?
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Molly is a wife, mom,
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I am not a registered dietitian, nor a medical professional. My blog is a representation of my views and experiences, which are not intended as medical advice. While I am a certified personal trainer, descriptions of things I eat and exercises I perform may not be suitable for everyone. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.