We had quite the scare recently, while riding bikes home from Kenny’s school. It’s a route we travel pretty much daily during the warm seasons, and we do our best to model good bicycling behavior to him. Neither Dwight nor I am a fan of bike riding on the sidewalk because it’s dangerous for anyone walking and it’s illegal in many areas; bikes are vehicles, and should be treated as such. We realize that plenty of other people do not share this view, and we’ve had enough yelling from cars speeding by to teach us to be extra careful. I know bicyclists can also be less than courteous, and I don’t spare bicyclists from criticism when it’s warranted but this time is about cars, as it was a car that hit Kenny while we rode home.
Luckily, the “accident” was minor- some dings on his bike, a few scrapes, and a lot of tears and fears- thanks to the way he was hit, on his rear tire as he was turning. He turned left behind me without signalling for himself, and the driver was trying to pass him on the left at the same time. Apparently, two physical objects really *can’t* occupy the same space at the same time. The driver quickly pulled off to the side of the road, and passing cars stopped to check out the melee on the street, but there was far more show than there was serious damage.
The driver was also young- still in high school- and at least as shaken up by the whole thing as Kenny was. She handled the whole situation really well for her age and driving experience, asking what she could do, making sure he was all right, and giving us her contact information just to be sure. This is more than I can say for other drivers, and I really appreciate the compassion and good judgment that this young driver showed. Seeing your kid sprawled in the street screaming is a huge shock, wanting to comfort the sobbing teen that put him there is possibly a bigger shock, but both happen on occasion.
Things are back to normal now, and we heard from the driver’s mom a couple of days after it happened, checking on how we were doing and letting us know that her daughter had learned a big lesson and had been focusing much more on driving instead of talking or other distractions since then. It’s something that we can all laugh about now, and Kenny wears his healing scrapes as a badge of honor. He’s even signalling turns on his own now and paying more attention himself.
As parents, we try our best to limit hurts experienced by our kids, but even the best parents in the world can’t eliminate the dangers of the world. The best that we can hope for is to give them the tools to lessen those dangers, the skills on how to recover quickly when they do occur, and support and love them a little extra through those times. As scary as this event was in our house and for the driver, it could have been far and away worse, and I’m thankful to be able to focus on the hard lessons learned instead of having to heal from larger scars.
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Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian
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