I’m aware that the end is grasping at straws

By Mir
April 6, 2005

It was 65 degrees outside today. Anyone visiting my site from Texas or Florida or anyplace warm is cordially invited to shut it; for us, this was a monumental day. Today was the first day this year where I could say with utter certainty that YES, winter is OVER.

[Pardon me while I take a brief pause to engage in the ceremonial springtime bonfire. Feel free to throw any salt-and-dirt-crusted snowpants onto the pyre, as well as any ice scrapers, warming cables, and the like that you wish to dispose of. Those little canisters of lock de-icer make a nice popping sound when they heat up, you know.]

Where was I? Oh yes! Warm! Lovely! And still light out after work/school. Doesn’t that sound like a nice day to ride bikes? I thought so! Because I am not very bright!

It just so happens that Chickadee will be getting a brand spankin’ new bike for her birthday–her first–from her father’s side of the family. Her old bike is too small, and she’s never been the first owner of a bike before. But as the children and the bikes grow, it becomes a larger hassle to tote bikes back and forth between houses. So her father and I had already discussed the possibility of getting her a second (larger) bike for the other house.

Meanwhile, Monkey has also outgrown his bike. Unfortunately, his birthday falls in the middle of the winter, so it didn’t take us long to figure out that a birthday gift of an outdoor toy is–for him–cruel and unusual punishment. I probably should’ve gotten him a new bike this year, but I just wasn’t up to dealing with the “But I want to take it OOOOOUTSIIIIIIIDE NOOOOOWWWWWWW!” that would’ve followed.

The bottom line is, both kids need new bikes, and I’m not interested in going extravagant in either case.

Enter one of the few things I like about living here in the sticks: there’s an old guy around the corner who fixes up used bikes and sells them. Cheap. (I am all about the cheap, which is not to be confused with being cheap.) His house blends in with all the other houses along the road, except that once the weather turns nice, his garage is always open, and a fleet of small bicycles beckon from his driveway with little handpainted price placards written on cardboard scraps.

I don’t know where the bikes come from; I don’t know why he does it or if he actually makes any money; I just know that he’s a kindly old man and every time I buy a bike from him he tells me to “just bring it back if you have any problems.” There have never been any problems.

We pass this gentleman’s house on our way home every day, so tonight I pulled into his driveway. I cut the engine and the car continued to vibrate–this time, from the bouncing of the two wide-eyed children in the back. We picked out two fine specimens (a bright green BMX type bike for Monkey and a pink-and-purple girlymobile for Chickadee) and paid the bike man his $20. For a tip, he asked Chickadee for a hug and she obliged. (I thought that was sort of sweet… then I thought it was creepy… then I told myself I was being paranoid… then I thanked him again and shooed her into the car.)

As we continued home, I explained that it was UNLIKELY that we would be riding these bikes TODAY. The tires needed air, they needed to be cleaned, the chains needed greasing, Monkey’s training wheels needed adjusting, and Chickadee’s bike was in need of a front reflector. They could certainly enjoy their existing bikes for a bit, while I fixed up the new ones, if they liked.

It all seemed so logical.

Monkey–resembling a cheerful clown on a mini-bike–zoomed up and down the driveway insisting that his bike wasn’t too small at all, why just look, I am very fast and that’s just fine! Look at me now, Mama! NOW look at me! Mama! Look! I am just zooming! OOPS! I’m okay! Don’t worry! I fell but I’m okay, I fell on my arm, not my head, and even if I fell on my head, that’d be okay, I have my helmet!

I love that kid.

Chickadee was staging her own version of a compilation of all the world’s great Greek tragedies right there in the driveway. The tears began almost as soon as we got out of the car. WHY can’t I ride the new bike, WHEN can I ride the new bike, IT’S NO FAIR that I can’t ride it right now and WHY DOES HE get a new bike and HE’S RUNNING INTO ME and oh, I cannot even type what happened when SHE fell, because the resultant spewing of shrieks and wails wasn’t actually in English. Once evicted from the great outdoors and banished to the house, I was informed that the poor dear HADN’T GOTTEN ANYTHING SHE WANTED TODAY. For some reason my immediate suggestion that we return her new bike did not brighten her mood.

I love that kid. But sometimes I wish I could love her while she was at boarding school.

And it wouldn’t seem possible, but the evening became even more tragic. Thus I received my confirmation that the few days of “calmer and better” which we’d so enjoyed, last week, were probably the result of her just starting to get sick. I don’t really have the money for boarding school, but it’d be free to have her lick the cart the next time we go to the grocery store.

And I was thinking, wouldn’t it be great if I had a silver lining to wrap this up? From there (once I had wiped away the tears from laughing so hard over the idea of there being a silver lining to this particular episode of “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”), I started thinking about how silver linings are hardly ever actually silver. And that got me thinking about silver things. (Oh, hey! Look over there! Something shiny!!) And that made me think of all my silver (grey) hair, and I found myself idly examining the ends of my hair, counting the greys (silvers).

And guess what! I found the SILVER lining! I straighten my hair, and so it takes a fair amount of abuse. It’s unavoidable that I would have split ends. Right now I’m overdue for a haircut so it’s worse than ever. And who likes split ends? Nobody, that’s who. But the grey (silver) hairs? Not a single split. Not one. The silver hairs are strong. (Also, possibly a derivative of steel wool, but whatever.) So that’s my silver lining. The kid is turning me silver (grey), but it means fewer split ends.


  1. carson

    I’ve decided that grey is beautiful. Really. My sister has a cool grey streak, and I have a friend whose early salt & pepper (when juxtaposed with her wrinkle free face) is stunning.

    I’m sure yours is just as wonderful.

  2. Kris

    Hey, if we didn’t have kids, we wouldn’t be grey. It’s sort of a badge of honor akin to stretch marks.

    And I also invite those (including Carson) who have had wonderful weather all along to kiss my left hiney cheek. (She had the nerve yesterday to make fun of us for needing winter coats.) LOL!

    Today it was gorgeous. Almost felt like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. (We had a 60 degree day last week followed by a whomp of fresh blizzard.)

  3. bonnie

    I appreciated reading your suggestion about a consequence jar at Kym’s blog today. I’m 50 with 11 dear children, but always open to learning new tricks!

    Your reference to silver hair brought this stanza from a song from the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to mind:

    Rock Me to Sleep, Mother
    (words by Elizabeth Akers Allen)

    Backward, turn backward, O Time in your flight.
    Make me a child again, just for tonight.
    Mother, come back from the echoless shore.
    Take me again to your heart as of yore.
    Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care.
    Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair.
    Over my shoulder your loving watch keep, —
    Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep!

  4. ben

    Cordially shutting it, and I don’t even own a winter coat.

    That sounds cool about the bike thing, when I’m a creepy old man? I’m gonna fix up bikes for everyone. Everyone needs a hobby.

  5. laura

    Silver hairs (or battleship gray in my case) are indestructible, in addition to being highly resistant to hair dye. It’s going to be 80* here today. Shutting it now and ducking!

  6. Amanda B.

    I love grey hair. Scott is starting to get a good bit around his temples and it is mui mas macho. I’m all about letting nature take it’s course. I don’t know if I’ll adhere to that when *I* get more grey, but hey, I’m talking about other folks here. ;)

  7. Zuska

    The bike thing would have TOTALLY played out that way at my house, too, so you have my sympathy.

    And, wow! Kudos to you for finding a silver lining in those pesky grey hairs of mine. I mean, of yours.

  8. Karry

    Shutting mouth already…

    Chickadee sounds so much like my own daughter (Middlechild) that they could be clones. I sympathise with you – completely.

  9. Ann

    Mir, So glad to see you are still writing! You don’t get older, just better! It’s too bad our lifetime achievement awards are always silver! I’m feeling well accomplished these days. lol


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