It is already feeling like spring here in San Francisco, but Matt’s torn calf muscle kind of cramped our weekend style. We had hoped to ride our bikes back to swim class across town last Saturday (this time with the short bikes, for comparison): not an option. We had thought we’d ride to our son’s school auction: didn’t happen. Instead, we got showed up by our PTA treasurer and spouse, who rode their tandem. We had ambitions of taking our son to ride in Golden Gate Park: no way, Matt can’t run alongside, and our son told me he doesn’t trust me to hold on (I think he can do more than he realizes).
I did take our daughter to the Music Concourse to go balance bike riding with a friend from preschool; lately, she is on fire. She rode that bike all around the park, cheerfully covering over a mile on her own. “Let’s ride some more!” She even tried to walk it up the hill on the way home, totally impossible; her balance bike offers no mechanical advantage. Fortunately the bike is light enough that I can carry both of them.
So on Sunday we walked down to the neighborhood farmers’ market. It was probably too long a walk for Matt, really, but we were all feeling a little stir-crazy. Taking a few days off from riding, even when we go somewhere by foot or by car, has started to feel like not leaving the house at all. Sure, it’s possible, and sometimes even desirable, but go too long and you start to feel a little scuzzy.
But the farmers’ market was good for the kids. To their dismay, the strawberry stand is not back in operation, but we found both cardoons and pea shoots. This week had music, and we found a gang of neighborhood kids dancing together. Our daughter ran off with a friend who lives nearby, hauling her away to show off her new big-girl bed, and we all followed them home.
However Sunday was also when our son’s frustration about riding his new bike peaked. We live on a mountain, and he is not yet a confident rider. His reach exceeds his grasp, and his desire to ride is always frustrated by the terror of trying to stop on a steep downhill using his coaster brakes and a hand brake. Neither is ideal, and most days he can only remember to use one at a time, at best. As usual after a frustrating attempt at a ride and a near-fall, he returned to our building and grabbed our daughter’s balance bike (his former bike) and started riding it around the (flat) basement, which always drives her crazy and starts a fight. We are at our wits’ end.
Then last night, at a school fundraiser at Sports Basement, while all the kids were trying out ski boots for entertainment, one of our son’s classmates tripped and fell, dragging his boot over our daughter’s foot. Blood sprayed everywhere, and we sprinted to the Emergency Department for yes, the second time in two weeks. We are frequent flyers in the ED, but even for us, this was a new low. She and I were up until midnight as her doctors waited for the anesthesia to kick in and debated whether to suture. Ultimately they decided they needed to drill a hole in her toenail to drain the blood, and I lack the words to describe how awful it was to hold down my screaming daughter while listening to the whine of a drill going into her foot. As of this morning she claims she is “all better” but she’s now on restricted activity, which at this point I personally would extend to never leaving our house again.
Prior to this fiasco, I stopped by the Sports Basement bike annex and saw another of my son’s classmates with his dad, trying out a new 20” bike. “I want to get him something with gears,” his dad said. “I’m tired of towing him up the hill.” (Like many of my son’s classmates, they live on Lone Mountain.)
“Oh, do you have a tandem attachment?” I asked. I am always interested in this topic, given our son’s struggles to become a more independent rider.
“Oh no,” he said. “I just tie a rope to his bike and pull him.”
Although I admire the can-do spirit, I have to admit the injustice rankles. My daughter ended up in the ED after walking around a sporting goods store, while his son remains uninjured after being towed up a mountain on his bike with a rope?
Exhaustion has not made me a better person.