C's birthday was last Saturday, just two days ago. We've known it was coming up since his last birthday which was on the exact same date last year, yet we still didn't have a present ready for him on that day. I came up with the excuse that we wanted him to pick out his own bike for his birthday, because the alternative - I'm a bad parent - just didn't sit right. There are enough reasons for guilt when trying to raise children, yet birthdays are a given from year to year. All we can hope is that our kids don't remember those days as we do when they're older. And that their therapists aren't all that bright and are unable to extract these long-buried disappointments. I spoke to my mother yesterday and she told me a story about a particular birthday of mine that she still feels guilty about to this day, it's something I have no memory of whatsoever which makes us both feel better. Now I just have to keep C from reading this, ever.
As it turned out, C was also sick on his birthday and didn't even feel up to bicycle shopping, so we went the following day. We went to Target (if one more person tells me that Wal-Mart has a better selection of bikes, so help me I will turn this blog around right now!) and he picked out the one he wanted, which wasn't the one on sale for $40 off in the sales circular from the paper that day because we couldn't find that particular model anywhere. We brought it home and he rode it around and when I got to looking at it I noticed something wasn't right. The back wheel was slightly bent, causing it to rub against the brakes.
Tonight, when I got home from work, I loaded The Quartet (all of them) and the flawed bike into the Volvo and went back to Target. There was only one other bike matching his in the store and it had the same defect. The one in the ad, the one one sale, was out of stock, and that was just the one he wanted. So I took all four kids up to stand in line at the return/exchanges counter to get a refund and a rain check, the whole time listening to S alternately whine about some candy she wanted and watching her soak the front of her shirt at the water fountain.
When the lady at the return/exchanges counter gave me the rain check, she also printed out all the stores that had that particular bike in stock. And then, in a shining moment of patience, and to assuage my birthday guilt, I drove all four of those kids, at 6:00 at night, through the Walnut Grove/Humphrey's Blvd. intersection (you locals will understand that) and out to the Super Target in Cordova. And there was his bike. And there was my $40 savings.
When I was about C's age, maybe a bit younger, I got my first 10-speed. I don't remember it being the coolest bike in the neighborhood, it was brown on brown, but it was the late 70s and who didn't love brown back then? But I rode that bike all over the place, it was my transportation, it was my steed. C's bike is a 21-speed and it truly is the coolest bike in the neighborhood, with black on silver and shocks and grip shifters. It's a bike he can grow into and then some, a bike to get him around, get him away for a bit and discover what's out there all on his own. I hope he enjoys it, I know I'll enjoy watching him on it.