Fathers, Bikes, and Black Eyes
Do as I say, not as I do.
It was the summer before first grade, in a deserted, hot parking lot. That parking lot just so happened to be my school’s, River Springs Elementary. I had just learned to ride a bike without training wheels the day before and I was actually pretty good at it for learning the day before.
Naturally, when we first got there, my parents made sure I still could ride the bike. I could. We rode around in the heat, sweating like dogs, tag-teaming with a water bottle, and my four-year-old brother trailing behind us slowly on his tricycle. His voice was barely audible because of how far behind he was.
“Mommy, Daddy, wait up! Wait up!” His sweet, little, high pitched voice chimed after us as he tried to pedal faster, his face so serious. He had his brows furrowed, nose scrunched and wrinkled, his lips pursed, all hunched forward over the handlebars. James’ little legs pedaled as fast as they would move, yet he failed to gain any ground on us.
I turned around looking at James, giggling at his failure. Turning back around, I sped past both of my parents, around the rest of the loop and back to the car, showing off my mad biking skills.
“Hurry up! I’m hungry!” I shouted. Thinking back on my childhood, I realized that I was probably the most polite, rude kid someone ever met.
Eventually my parents got back and about five minutes after them my brother arrived. My father opened the back of the truck and pulled out a large cooler and our four camping chairs: a beige chair for him, a navy one for my mother, a pink one for me, and a tiny green one for my brother. The cooler was filled with four ham sandwiches and some bottles of water, Kool-Aid or Capri-Suns, and ice. My mother passed out the food and drinks while my father got out bags of chips. It didn’t take long for us to finish despite our unique eating styles. My mother and father ate like most normal people, alternating between their food and drink. My brother put his chips on his sandwich and drank at the same time. While I ate only my sandwich, then only my chips, and finished with my drink.
After chatting and letting our food settle, we hopped back on our bikes and rode around aimlessly. We were not in a pack. We were not in the same row. We were within eyesight of each other. My mother was on the playground side so she could keep an eye on James while my dad and I were all over the parking lot.
I honestly had not a care in the world. I zipped around corners, flew over speed bumps, grazed through patches of mulch and grass, and jumped over or off curbs. Eventually, I saw my dad over near the entrance, weaving in between the awning poles. Wanting to be like him, I sped over to that area.
I picked the first two poles I would go through and sped towards my target. The closer I got; the more courage bubbled up inside of me. Too much courage. I pedaled harder, faster. Fiery pain seared up my legs, but I didn’t care. Then I sharply turned the wheels directing them towards the empty space. Unfortunately, I didn’t turn enough.
“Daddy! Look at me! I can d-” Everything became blurred as I collided with one of the poles. I lurched forward as my bike rammed into the pole. My head was hit square on the pole. My bike toppled over and threw me off. As I hit the ground the back of my head slammed into the ground leaving me sprawled on my back. I hardly noticed my father when he pedaled over to me and dismounted his bike.
“Caroline, you’re okay. You’re going to be fine,” he said while taking off my cracked helmet. “Does anything hurt?”
To be honest my entire face hurt. What hurt the most was my right cheek bone. That area had already started to bruise.
We went home and iced my face. I went to school with a black eye and made up a story. Someone would ask me “Caroline, what happened to your eye?”. I would simply reply with a smirk “I got hit with a spell during dueling practice,” then shrug and walk away. Later that week, we went to the doctor with my eye still slightly bruised. The doctor told us that I had permanently bruised my cheek bone. So basically, my bone is bruised and will hurt forever. Yeah, it still hurts to this day. I was lucky that I was wearing my helmet, or I would have cracked my head open according to the doctor.
Even though I’m not very fond of wearing helmets this happening reminds me to WEAR IT. I also to do as my father says, not as he does.