Turn the Tables

I was fussing in the garage with my 17-year-old on Saturday.  He’s been growing up on his own schedule, treating most sports with deep suspicion.  He didn’t ride a two-wheeler until he was six-ish, and only swam in middle school because we kept driving him to the pool after school and taking away his clothes. He took up cycling a couple of years ago and has engaged the sport and the art of bicycles with a passion.  I taught him everything I know about cycling (which took about five minutes) and he’s gone off on his own roadie-hipster-track guy path.

He was tinkering with bikes and I was tidying up the mess he makes when he tinkers with bikes.  I realized he had put his mountain bike back on the hook and had our little hardtail out, working on it.  “Your sister won’t be back in town for a month,” I said.  “You might as well hang it up.”

“Oh, no,” he said.  “This is for you to ride.”

I am terrified of mountain biking.  Cyclocross is one thing (and I’m a terrible CX rider), but every single time I’ve taken a MTB into a park, I come out crying, swearing, and bleeding.  I tried to balk, but he insisted.  We were going to go mountain biking and it was going to be OK.

He was so kind and patient, nurse-maiding me through the Hartland technical training area, spotting me while I tried riding a precipitous drop (four inches, I think).  He led me up and across trails that were just challenging enough and applauded when I blundered through some muddy alligator-infested swamp-pit and didn’t have to put my foot down.  He led me down single-track that I actually managed to ride and applauded when I came around an especially hair-raising corner.  “I honestly didn’t think you were going to be able to ride that without going off the edge into Killarney Lake, but you did it!  ”  And he was wise enough to say, “That’s a huge win.  Let’s go home on a good note.”

“And, like, can you buy me ice cream at The Red Barn on the way home?”

Later, I found our set of rollers out on the front porch.  I’d repaired them during The Great Tinkering and D was poking at them to see if the repair would hold.

I’m terrified of rollers.  Trainers are one thing, but I have tried riding rollers a few times and have never been able to bypass panic.  D went back to the garage to get a bike to spin up on them, but came back out with my roadie.  “Boy,” I said, “Boy, that bike is too small for you.  Go get your own bike.”

“Oh, no,” he said.  “This is for you to ride.”

Oh.  No. Way.  Nowaynowaynoway.  But he persisted and I found myself, white knuckles denting the porch railing, on top of my bike on top of deadly rollers.  “Go on,” he said.  “I’ll spot you.”  And he did.  He stood there, my baby boy did.  “What’s the worst that can happen?  You’ll tip over at zero km/h, and I’ll catch you.”  And he stood there patiently while I incrementally moved my hand from the rail to my bars and got up and spinning, confident that this 6’2″ hulk beside me was strong enough to save me from certain death.

Later in the evening, while he was out, I spun them back up on my own and was able to ride a whole 30 minutes, something I never thought I could do.  The poor kid paid for his generosity, though… 25 minutes into the ride, he came home with a friend and found me, out there on the front porch, dripping with sweat, unable to make eye contact with the friend lest I wipe out.  They quickly repaired indoors and ate the rest of my Christmas turkey leftovers.  I hope he didn’t spend the rest of the evening regretting that he’d taught me how to do that.

Something magical has happened in the last few weeks.  This kid is getting ready to launch.  He announced an audacious plan for after he graduates, and I surprised myself when I said, “great idea, boy.”  He’s ready.  And somewhere along the line, the tables have turned.  He spent the weekend teaching me, encouraging me, and protecting me.  I am honoured and grateful.

One thought on “Turn the Tables”

  1. Brought a tear to each eye Kate. I love stories that involve teaching. Lucky you and Good on you!

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