It was mid-bike ride that it struck me.
I wasn't being fair. Not even a little bit.
Here was my 6-year-old pedaling up a storm beside me on his own bike. I was shouting out instructions. "Look THREE ways at this stop and make sure there are NO CARS COMING!" and "We don't walk until the orange hand turns to a white walking stickperson! No. WAIT!" And the classic, "No, we do NOT cut other people off! Stay on your side of the sidewalk!"
And of course lots of "Great job! You can do it! Fabulous work, Carter! Nicely done!"
I was working my hardest to teach him road safety and biker safety and just how to be a decent human on a bike all at once. He was working hard to learn these things. Together, we were sweating up a storm and making progress. Life progress.
And mid-bike ride, I realized. I wasn't teaching this to Addison.
Addison was sitting on the seat behind me. Simply along for the ride.
She wasn't learning road safety or biker safety or anything about being a decent human being.
I was torn. Was I taking an experience away from her by simply letting her ride with me? Should I be pushing her and having the same expectations I have of Carter? She is TWO years older than him! I've always prided myself in the way I push her along with the others.
But....over two days this weekend, Carter biked close to 12 miles. There's no way Addison could have biked this. She can't even sit on a bike with training wheels and go the length of a sidewalk. Without me making the accommodation of letting her ride, she would have missed out on some cool adventures.
Biking to the library....biking to get ice cream...biking as a family to pick up pizzas and go to the park. Family time. Beautiful sunshine time. Breathing in that fresh air. A tour of the city via bikes.
IT WAS AWESOME.
And she got to be a part of that because we accommodated for her. Without letting her just sit...she wouldn't have been able to experience any of these things.
I wondered briefly if this was what life was going to be like.
We continue to push and teach Carter while she comes along for the ride because she can't match his level of life achievement. BUT, she gets to see some cool things and experience life in a different way than she would if we just stayed home and worked on that one sidewalk.
I don't know.
I find as my kids grow, the intricacies of raising them equally increase.
I love them all equally. I want them all to have awesome lives equally.
But sometimes this plays out differently for Addison.
I'm not mad about this. I'm just trying to remain sensitive to HER. I want her to feel pushed and challenged too.
But how else do you bike ride as a family...12 miles in 2 days...without accommodating a child who can't quite yet handle a bike?
I remember last year at the 4th of July parade, we were walking to find seats, and a bike quickly cut past us. I looked up at the ride and smiled to see that it was a beautiful young lady with Down syndrome biking like a pro. Her dad followed closely behind her on a bike. He waved and smiled as they passed us.
That image has stuck with me. Addison will someday ride a bike at the same tempo as the rest of us. I know it. I believe in her. And along the way, I will teach her road safety and biker safety and how to be a decent human being on a bike.
But meanwhile, we bring her along for the ride. To inspire her? To include her. To love her. To experience cool life experiences with her.
This is the last year she will fit in the seat on my bike. Next year, she will either be the solo rider in the double trailer or maybe try a tagalong bike. I don't know. We plan to take it one bike ride at a time.
But always. Always including her.
And so this weekend's bike ride was unfair. Carter was being taught. Addison was being hauled.
I've made my peace with this.
I had to laugh. At one point she was lounging in her seat, the wind softly blowing on her cheeks, licking an ice cream cone, premiere chauffeur bike service hard at work...
...and she had the nerve to complain that "It's too bumpy. Stop being so bumpy." As she continued her bike cruise experience.
Pretty sure if there had been comment cards, I would have only gotten two stars.
"This ride was too bumpy. I feel like the driver did not give enough thought to the bumpiness of my experience. I will not be choosing this ride again. Someone please teach this driver that riders have ice cream cones and need a smooth ride. Smooth like chocolate. I like chocolate."
Honestly, it reminded me a little of myself in life.
"Thanks, God for giving me this beautiful home and family and life and gorgeous state...BUT THIS RIDE IS TOO BUMPY." As he carries me along in a life full of grace and love.
It's easy to pick the one slightly off thing instead of focusing on all the good.
That was Addison's life lesson from the weekend.
Maybe not ready for road safety. But...Gratitude 101...coming right up.
Like I said...intricacies of parenting this crew has me on full alert always.
But you know what, even though this ride can be slightly bumpy...I'm having the time of my life.