Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Brakes? What Brakes?

Summer is here…though rainy now, there were some days that were warm and somewhat inviting a couple of weeks ago…so my younger son Dylan, a bicycle enthusiast, pushed us to finally pull out the bikes from their winter confinement. We still don’t allow him to ride by himself, and given the fact that we haven’t gotten around buying a new bike for Grant, and that I am the only other person in the household with a ridable one…it is up to me to go riding with him. So I did, for a little while…which was obviously not long enough for Dylan, but he managed to be OK with that. As soon as Daddy came home in the evening, though, he began to ask us to go for another bike ride…Dan, however, doesn’t totally feel … how shall I put it…comfortable… riding my rain-forest-lime-green coaster bike, so the ride was even shorter. Anyway, we told him that he could ride his bike alongside us as we went for our afternoon walk around the neighborhood…he agreed…so off we went.

There is a substantial hill in the Weathervane Hills neighborhood, which we use as our major source of incline workout…so we decided that it would be best if Dylan didn’t have to climb that hill on the bike. See how smart and thoughtful we are? No…we thought it would be best if he would ride the hill down, instead.

We got to the top of the hill and reminded Dylan about brakes and stuff and how he had to take it easy down the hill, and whatever. He wasn’t listening, of course, and he took on the hill with his feet dragging…off the pedals…where the brakes are…

He started to descend, and very quickly he realized he would not be able to slow down the bike by just dragging his feet.

Dan started telling him to use the brakes… “use the brakes” … “Use the Brakes!” .. “DYLAN! USE THE BRAKES!!!!!!”

I just stood in the middle of the street, paralyzed, both hands on my head…watching Dylan as he was heading straight to a fast encounter with a massive mailbox. There was nothing we could do, but watch.

A million thoughts ran through my mind…mainly the fact that we were going to have to pay for that mailbox…as well as for the teeth that were going to be flying in a second, of course…

When the miracle happened…

At the very last moment, Dylan was able to maneuver around the mailbox to continue on his discombobulated descend. Somehow, he finally found the brakes and was able to slow down by the base of the hill enough to bend the corner and stop to wait for us…


What followed was a mix of yelling at him (Dan), asking him questions (Dan), and laughing uncontrollably (me). The poor kid wasn’t saying much. He was in shock. Finally, when we had all calmed down and he was getting ready to start pedaling again, he said: “I’m a little shaky.” I looked at him and his surprised face revealed how this was probably the very first time that he had had a real, honest-to-goodness, face to face encounter with a potentially very scary event…and the first time that this kind of terror had moved him to shakiness… so I walked up to him, gave him a hug and a kiss and said to him “that’s what happens when you are scared…but you are OK now.”

He got back on his bike and we forgot to tell Grant about the incident until the next morning at breakfast. We related the event, and I said something like, “God protects the silly” or something, I might have said, the dumb, can’t remember, and then Dylan pronounced firmly: “God protects dumb people!” I laughed at that, and thought…Praise Him for He does protect the dumb people that belong to Him.

He knows exactly what we need to go through in order to learn. Many times He spares us from disaster, but some other times He allows us to travel a path that may contain some mailboxes and hills. Then, He watches us. He tells us what to do. He places instructions in a handy Book for us to follow and He watches us…as we don’t listen. He watches us ignore Him. He watches us head straight to collision and He is there to help us find our way again. He is there even when we are dumb. He is there even when we have forgotten how to apply the brakes. He embraces our shaky bodies and He sends us back on the road to continue the journey until one day, He calls us home.

I’m pretty sure Dylan learned a lesson or two during that ride down the hill. Practical lessons that will stay with him forever, and that he will remember better than all the advice we might have tried to teach him otherwise. I’m sure next time, he’ll find the brakes, alright.

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