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This summer, my 7 year old daughter & I have been riding our bikes a lot. A good number of these trips were not just recreational. We have been using the bike as a legitimate commute option. Most of our trips have been about 3 miles long. Our little girl has been bravely riding alongside regular commuter & speed cyclists during those trips. While she was hoping to ride alongside me and have a fun chat, I was constantly barking out road rules at her. She was trying to be my buddy and I was unsuccessful at getting out of my mom hat!!
To give you an idea, our conversation would go something like this:
N - mommy, you know, we can make a hovercraft.
Me - don't look at me. look ahead.
N - mommy, I can show you how to make a hovercraft
Me - let's take a break, sit at the lawn & talk.
N - no no. Let's go. I don't want a break.
Me - But I don't want you talking to me. I want you to focus on the road. Safety first.
N - okay okay!
....and then she would start pedaling really fast and go way ahead of me :-(
watching kayaks on Hudson during one such trip
In any case, just to make things crystal clear, I wrote down all the biking rules for her to read before we head out. Interestingly many of these seem like they apply very well to life in general.
Rules for bike trips
1. wear helmet. It makes a lot of sense to protect ourselves.
2. get good quality equipment & take good care of it. i.e., get a good bike & maintain it well.
3. middle path is the best one. stay in the middle of your lane. leave enough moving space on either side.
4. signal your intentions before you make a turn. alert others. use your bell, hand signs and/or your voice. don't be shy.
5. keep your eye on the road. look ahead. look where you are going.
6. take a break before you need to. preempt exhaustion.
7. have company. don't try to go it alone. it's good have someone with you... can help each other out in case of an emergency.
8. don't compete with other cyclists. they may have faster bikes and may have trained a lot more than you. stay on your course.
stopping for breakfast on N's favorite spot - pier 45
While I was pedantically preaching all of the above rules to my little daughter, she managed to effortlessly teach me one very profound lesson even without opening her mouth. And here it is...
Most of our trips were along the Hudson river. My original idea was to stop at a different pier each time & explore all of them one by one. I didn't want to miss out. I was keen on knowing what else is out there. However, our 7 yr old foiled my plans by choosing to stop at the exact same spot every time. She was happy the first time she saw those bagel statues & a refreshing fountain on pier 45 and that became her go-to spot everyday. She didn't quite care whenever I urged her to go see what else is out there. She was there in the moment, focused on enjoying what was in front of her. On the other hand, I was not really taking it all in & was worried about missing out on the other piers. I was so keen to check the boxes, so keen to make sure I have covered all the piers on our way and in the process was ironically missing out on that which was right in front of me.
On a larger scale, if there is one thing I really, really want to achieve, it is this ability to completely own & cherish my current station in life, in its entirety...not having the desire to be someone else or be someplace else and yet I was struggling to do just that... even on a 5-10 minute break of no consequence.
It took me a few trips to give up on exploring the other piers & settle for the same spot everyday...and voila, the day that happened our 10 minute break was such a pleasure, much more than it had been in the past few days. Not only that, promptly after I gave up & started enjoying pier 45, dear daughter, on her own, without any nudging from my part suggested visiting pier 26!! and therein I had my groundhog day moment :-)