Sometimes, two is just not enough and, at the same time, too many. Today case in point. Both girls had riding toys along at our adoption group picnic – Adia with her scooter and Malaika with her recently mastered bicycle. Adia is cautious, at times overly so, and I don’t worry about her wandering off or taking risks on her scooter that she doesn’t have the skill to manage. Malaika, on the other hand, will do anything and go anywhere that enters her mind. So, you can be assured that before she was allowed to don her helmet and take off, I laid out the boundaries to my little one: you can ride as far as the steep hill driveway but no farther, and under no circumstances are you to go up or down the steep hill. She nodded her understanding as she rode away after her sister’s scooter.
I am sure there is a law of physics that states that when both hands and eyes of the responsible adult are occupied with a clean up (or loading or preparing or phone related) task, the children must find trouble, preferably of the injurious kind. I gave the girls a five minutes and we are going to leave warning while they were riding past the shelter. Both heads bobbed. I loaded the first aid kit onto the cooler and strapped it in then stuffed my empty aluminum cans into the recycling container. When I came out from behind shelter counter, I noticed Nadine sitting on the ground at the bottom of the steep hill with Malaika in her arms. I called out, Did she crash? Nadine shook her head at me and mouthed, She’s fine. Still, a mom has to check. When I reached them, Nadine said that Malaika had just been coming down the hill so fast that she lost control of her bike when she hit the grass. She’s been riding a two wheeler for a total of three days, mind you. The riding part she has pretty well down, but steering and the finesse to navigate tricky situations are a little shaky.
I looked her over and found no real scraps or scratches, no bleeding or bruising. So, I told the girls to wait there while I went to the restroom and grabbed the cooler and we would head out. There was no line. I thought I moved through the necessities rather quickly. Yet, when I started down the path with cooler in tote, I saw Malaika’s bicycle still laying in the grass but no child waiting. In fact, neither of them were there. I asked Maree, where is Malaika, and at the same moment saw her walking up the steep hill pushing a pink razor scooter. Who’s scooter is that? I asked aloud. Maree said it was one of theirs. I started to call to Malaika to put the scooter down and come get her bike, but before I even opened my mouth and took in a breath, she flipped that scooter around to face down the hill, put one foot in the center of the riding platform and pushed off. Malaika! I called. No! Get off!
It was too late, or it was inevitable. She rode a foot or so before the scooter went one way and she went the other.
She came out unscathed but for her wounded pride. We didn’t even need the band-aids that we’d brought along. I’m sure she wished that she had shown me and proven that my precautions and limits were silly and overly protective. Instead, she had to abandon the scooter to the parent of its owner and accompany me on foot to the bottom of the hill to retrieve her bicycle. That, and the admonishment that if she wasn’t going to follow the rules she wouldn’t be allowed to bring or borrow riding toys in the future.
Deep snuffling sobs accompanied her as she pushed her bicycle up the hill to the car. Mommy, she sniffed, I need a tissue. We’ll get one when we get to the car, I replied. Mommy, I need a hug. I know, Malaika, I said, and sqeezed her shoulder. I know.