Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Last Days of Summer. What a Ride!

Back to School Night for my incoming fourth grader.

Last Days of Summer Fun.

The four boys and I piled onto the double surrey.  I would best describe the experience like sardines packed upon a bike.  And, did I mention the temperature hovered around 90?  A surrey ride with four sons in sweltering temperatures was my son Caleb's idea.  At 15, Caleb would rather spend his time sequestered into his room huddled around a computer screen.  So when he mentioned the idea of family time on a surrey, I jumped at the notion of rare quality time with my teen.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, I reminded myself, even riding on an overcrowded bike with my four cantankerous boys.

Caleb, armed with a learner's permit and limited driving experience, insisted on jumping into the driver's seat.  Two other sons and I settled into seats with pedals.  Connor requested the seat without the pedals.  He reminded the group that he had cross country practice that afternoon and couldn't tire his legs.  Instead, his 9 year old younger brother would need to pedal in his place.  

Side note: Connor believes the cross country team provides him a free pass on any activity involving effort.  Lawn mowing?  Can't.  I run cross country.  Dish washing?  Doesn't work.  Remember, I run cross country.  Laundry?  Wouldn't want to tire for cross country!

As the bike maneuvered forward, I realized this would be more of a workout than an experience.  My offspring tapped the pedals with the intensity of an elderly women.  The lackluster effort moved the surrey about an inch forward; the lion's share of the pedaling fell upon their mother.  While I appreciate a good workout, launching the surrey forward felt a bit like swimming against the current with four boys strapped upon my back (and don't forget about the heat).

About five minutes into the bike ride, the boys began to squabble.  First, they argued upon the definition of a sport.  After a heated debate, the boys determined golf and running were not sports.  I debated about defending the validity of running as a sport, but I was too winded with all the pedaling.  The conversation then drifted into the sleazy and off-color art work they've witnessed in the classrooms thanks to the "artistic" talents of their classmates.  It seemed like a totally appropriate conversation for their nine year old brother!

At one point, Cooper smacked Connor.  As punishment for his impulsiveness, I said we would not go to the bookstore after the ride.  Cooper was distraught by the prospect of not visiting his beloved bookstore and sulked for the remainder of the trip.  

After an hour of panting and riding, we returned the surrey.  I chatted with Caleb about the ride.  Suddenly, I noticed that Cooper was missing.  He emerged about a minute later clutching a Coke can.

"I bought this at the vending machine for Connor," he announced while giving his stunned brother the can.

Before I had time to probe into the exchange, the surrey operator directed me to the counter to pay for the ride.  I sauntered over to the surrey booth.  When I returned a few minutes later, Connor declared, "I think you should let Cooper go the bookstore."

My heart melted over the exchange.  The boys made amends and appeared at peace with each other!

"Cooper," I said with tears glistening in my eyes.  "It's just so sweet how you loved on your brother and gave him a good gift. Connor, I love your forgiving heart."

Cooper bounced back, "No, it's called making a deal."

This was pure Cooper: savvy, cunning, and hilarious.  I just had to laugh.

As we traveled back to home, Caleb appeared pleased by the surrey ride.  Cooper and Connor remained peaceful.  Collin and I nursed sore legs and happy hearts.  

The surrey ride was quite the adventure, but so is every day with the boys.  

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