Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Bike Named Sue

I grew up riding a boy's bike.  My oldest sibling is a boy, so every time he outgrew his ride, it just got passed down the line without any consideration to the gender of the next recipient.  I was the third child out of four kids, and as much as I coveted my friends' pink tasseled bikes with daisy baskets, I knew things could be worse.  I could be my younger brother.   Number four child (Joe) got saddled with "the beginner" bike well past the point of it fitting him properly.  Have I mentioned my brother is 6'6"?  Watching him ride a kindergartner's bike while trying to handle his paper route every day kept the entire neighborhood in stitches.

I believe now that abject humiliation builds character.  So when I got a great deal on a girl's bike at a garage sale last year, I snatched it right up.  My husband was indignant.  He insisted on removing all the flower stickers and then spray-painted the seat black.  Of course by the end of the summer, my sons would inevitably show up with a charcoal-colored asses.

If you ignored the purple pedals and handlebars, who would know?
When my sister-in-law was looking for takers for daughter's outgrown bike, I happily took possession of that, too.  It was in mint condition:

I love the complimentary shades of purple. 
By this point, my husband just dropped his shoulders in defeat.  Between my non-stop Broadway selections in the car, violin lessons and now girl bikes, I think Joe figured his chances of a Mt. Carmel football MVP son were shot to hell.

Mid-summer, I started hauling out the boys' bikes to adjust the seats and check the tires.  Joe's older brother, John, quickly spotted our assortment of pink and purple two-wheelers.  He didn't say anything at the time, but apparently his own wheels were turning.

A few weeks later during a family celebration, John surprised Joey with a brand new bike for his 4th birthday:

It really doesn't go with our current color scheme.
It was a generous gift and Joey can't believe that he has something brand new that is all his own.  When the steering became a little loose at the park and I asked him to stop riding it until we got home to tighten it, he threw the mother of all tantrums.  He was absolutely convinced I was going to throw away his new bike and end his whole life's happiness.

I thanked John's wife again recently for such a great gift, and she told me that John, a man of few words, would only say, "No Godson of mine is going to be seen around Beverly on a girl's bike."

Which now leaves me only two boys to publicly embarrass over the next few years.  I'm thinking of starting them up on Irish Dancing next Spring. 

(By the way, I have to credit the inspiration for this blog: Mrs. L.  For loyal readers, she is the wife of the guy who laced my kids' hockey skates all last season to prevent my nervous breakdown.  She posted a picture of a girls' lost bike helmet on Facebook to try to locate its owner.  My honest-to-God reaction was: "Geez, if nobody claims that, it sure would go great with Jack's bike."  And that's how blogs are created.  A picture of the helmet included below in case anyone out there really does know the rightful owner and doesn't want me to get my hands on it to further damage my sons):

Seriously, it's perfect.


  1. a huge "thanks" to John for raising the bar so darn high with gift giving! Where are we going to find a bike to fit Mike's 6'12" 2nd grade God-son???????? ;) Missy

  2. The girl bike issue has always been one of my favorite stories. And Joe deserves a lot of credit for patience. This is one thing I dont think I could get away with. However, seeing we only breed girls, it never comes into play!!


  3. Missy - the carpool is worth its weight in gold in keeping me sane: a gift beyond riches to your Godson.

    Robyn - Sure, rub it in that nobody is going to take care of me when I'm old. That's the beauty of daughters.

  4. I have a daughter and I'm not so sure she is going to take care of me in my declining years. Was hoping I could guilt Daniel in to visiting me at my nursing home.