I wasn’t going to post anything this week because I’ve been busy helping my mother prepare invitations for her wedding and making arrangements for Damian’s birthday party this Sunday. However when you have a morning like mine, it is too ‘good’ to miss writing about it.
Today is National Ride to School Day in Australia. After over a years worth of effort teaching and helping Damian overcome his anxiety about riding a bike (a story in itself), Damian can now ride his bike without training wheels with confidence and ease.
We don’t ride our bikes to school normally because we live too far away from school to do that (about 15 minutes drive) but in the spirit of the occasion we parked a suitable distance from school at the local skate park (about 3 km away from school) so that we could be part of this annual event.
The school staff encouraged all the children to take part and have offered points for each child participating in it to go towards their own school-house teams, with the winning team to be announced at the end of the day.
Two weeks ago, my husband, Jeremy, Damian and I did a practice ‘ride to school’ in preparation for the real thing. There was anxiety and tears from Damian about riding a small stretch of the way on a back road (the road safety messages have sunk in well), then anxiety about crossing a bridge from Jeremy who is somewhat afraid of heights, then arguments about who was to ride in front (both boys wanted to lead) and plenty of ‘when are we going to get there?’ general whining. Needless to say my husband decided to ride back to get the car so that we didn’t have to ride our bikes back again.
After our training ride, I suggested that we should wait another year before attempting the ‘ride to school’ because I didn’t think they were ready for it but both boys baulked at that and pleaded with me to do it, so I relented.
I was aware that my husband wouldn’t be able to help out on the day because of work commitments, which made me nervous. What if one of the boys refused to ride any further? Then I’d be stuck with one boy crying about wanting to continue and the other one crying about wanting to stop. I’ve been stuck in similar situations before. Unfortunately, my boys are not very flexible thinkers.
This morning, we got up earlier than usual to account for the extra time it would take to ride our bikes to school. We left 30 minutes later than I had planned because I decided to pump the bike tyres up a bit more and had trouble detaching my bike from its stand. I have a great deal of trouble with fiddly practical tasks. Such tasks are much more complicated for me than the average person. Fortunately, I always aim for an earlier departure time than necessary because I am anxious about being late for things.
It wasn’t until I went to pack the bikes into the car that I realised my bike wouldn’t fit. My husband usually attaches them to a rack on the back of the car whenever we take them somewhere and I was not about to try that this morning. I decided to take Jeremy’s scooter instead, there was no way I was going to attempt to run next to them like my husband does sometimes. My running days are long gone.
I parked the car at the skate park and we got on our bikes/scooter. Damian was still anxious about riding on the back road and started crying, so I told him to walk his bike to the track. Once I reassured him that there were not going to be any cars on the back road at this time in the morning on a week day (unlike the two that passed us on the weekend because it leads to a walking track) he decided to ride and his anxiety abated.
We actually managed to ride along at a better pace than for our training ride and I was feeling confident that we would get to school early. I gave the boys plenty of praise for riding so well. Damian was out in front because I was carrying his school bag so he was feeling very important and I was taking my time with Jeremy, swapping legs on the scooter each time my muscles started to cramp up (I’m not used to riding a scooter). Much to my delight both boys rode happily across the bridge without incident.
We were almost at the school when it happened. I hit a bump and toppled over the front of the scooter. I felt myself flying through the air in slow motion and consciously got my hands out in front as fast as I could to break my fall. I managed to belly flop on the concrete in front of me. I slowly sat up feeling a bit winded and realized that blood was dripping from my chin. I was very relieved that I hadn’t sprained or broken anything though. I was also glad it was me and not one of my boys.
While I was assessing the damage, Damian was up ahead and getting anxious that I wasn’t catching up to him. He started calling out for me in a distressed way. It rarely occurs to Damian for him to come to me. I call out to him to say that I’m coming and he needs to wait. Another mother (I’ll call her Susan) who was riding with her school child stopped and offered help. Fortunately, she had plenty of tissues because my chin wouldn’t stop bleeding. I realized pretty quickly that my arms and legs were unharmed, so I thanked Susan for the tissues, hoisted the scooter over my shoulder and walked with Jeremy towards Damian who was still crying out for me.
To cut a long story short, we walked the rest of the way to school (anxiously crossing roads). Susan found me as soon as we got to school and offered me a lift home (she would bring her car back to the school to collect me). I refused the offer twice but accepted on her third offer assuming she must really want to help me. My natural reaction to any form of help is to refuse; I’m never comfortable with it (unless it’s a service I’m paying for). I know it’s not healthy but that’s how I feel. Anyhow, I remembered my manners and thanked her kindly; she would be my hero for the day.
The first school bell rang as we put our bikes away. I was pretty pleased that we had arrived at school at just the right time. If anything I am usually prompt. I send Jeremy and Damian off to class with hugs and plenty of praise for their efforts and headed straight to the school’s first aid room before meeting Susan out the front of the school.
Plenty of teachers and parents were concerned for me, I laughed and they laughed and they commiserated. Several people offered to stay with me while I waited for my ride but I reassured them that I was fine. It was just my chin. But it wasn’t really just my chin because I was frustrated with myself. I couldn’t believe that I fell off my scooter on National Ride to School Day. But more to the point, I COULD believe it because it is the sort of thing only I could do. I’m clumsy at the best of times. I’m lucky to be alive really. Sigh.
I couldn’t help laughing after the doctor glued my chin and he warned me about the signs of concussion. He actually said “If you find yourself wandering around not knowing what you are doing, then come straight back”. If that is the case, I should visit a doctor every day. You know how it is, as a frazzled ‘stay at home mum’, when you walk into one room of the house and wonder what it was you planned to do there, three seconds earlier? That’s me, everyday.