The Summer Without Bicycles

As Dolly and I took our morning walk, my senses were on high alert.  Above me and through the trees ahead, the sky reminded me of the color of the wild blueberries I picked earlier in the summer. I had wildly creative plans for those blueberries.  You know the old saying, “best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

The sun hadn’t made her debut yet. The morning air was stagnant as it often is in August. A squirrel stood stock still thinking I didn’t notice him. One at a time, the septic sprinklers started spraying the air with an odor only to be compared to that of rotten eggs.

On my left, the darkened windows spoke loudly. Inside, a dear friend adjusting to her life as a widow. Spanning the side of the house, the flower beds that once held beauty now bear witness to the next chapter of her story.

As we walked, Dolly perked her ears up and picked up her pace a bit, alerting me to the kids waiting for the school bus. I was taken aback. I didn’t realize there were other kids in our neighborhood aside from the few that I know.

Earlier in the summer, Stuart and I were coming home from who knows where when I saw the strangest sight. An unfamiliar teenage boy riding a bicycle in our neighborhood. It was at that moment I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen a kid pedaling a bicycle.

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A little further down the road and past the house that used to have the turquoise door, I heard the faint sound of jingling keys as a mom locked her front door. Dragging their feet a few more kids with backpacks in hand made their way to the car. More kids?

Towards the back of the neighborhood we found another set of unfamiliar faces belonging to humans of the early teens persuasion.

I’d left my phone at home on the charger. I’m glad. There would be no podcast to steal my attention from the sunrise whispering to me. Although, I can’t wait to pick up where I left off. I’ve developed an affinity for true crime, cold case, podcasts.

Where were these kids all summer? I’ll tell you where they weren’t. They weren’t tearing up and down the streets, in the neighborhood, on their bikes. They weren’t wetting a hook at the park. They weren’t jumping off the pier into the lukewarm lake water, all the while dreading the summer’s end.

As I thought about the missing bicycles, my own childhood summer memories started to surface. Well, the memories prior to my parents divorce. Those summers are where my memory chooses to set up camp.

My running buddies, annual visits from my eskimo friend, bicycles, four wheelers and a public swimming pool. Devil’s Dip, football in the field and wrapping houses. Walking “the trails,” children of the corn and swimming in the creek. These are the day in and day out mundane goings on that helped make me who I am today, good, bad and ugly. I cherish these memories as the rest of my childhood and teenage years, well, sucked.

The mundane day to day goings on of kids today is foreign to me. My present mindset is very similar to that of my mindset during my childhood summers. Those memories coarse through my veins, some days more vigorously than others.

My heart can’t help but break for kids today. Would my summer memories have been different if I’d been Instagramming and Snapchatting? Sadly, I think they would be. As an adult I have to make a conscious effort to put the damn phone down. What kid is going to make that decision? Not many. Technology is their mundane day to day. Heartbreaking.

I’m so thankful my two children, now adults, were young before technology took hold.  Hopefully, they will look back on their childhood summers and remember the outside fun. The swimming. The fishing. The getting dirty. Hopefully they will realize how blessed they were to be “before technology.”

Make an effort today to put a kink a kids day to day. Grab their hand and take them outside. Get sweaty! Encourage them to go barefoot. Get dirty with them. Jump off a pier. Make memories as together you watch summer fade.

Most of all, teach them to listen to the sunrise. It told me a lot this morning.

Take Care,

JP

Photo credit: http://www.raisingarizonakids.com

 

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