Ryan carries his helmet to the bicycle now. I used to carry him and helmets.
“Up, up and away.” We say when I lift him and place him in the co-pilot seat of my Gary Fisher Mountain Bike. The straps that go over his head and fasten between his legs now have to be loosened to fit around his melon head and tightened again once fastened. I used to be concerned that the strap wasn’t snug enough and now I worry it’s too tight. He was a pea in a pod on this bicycle of mine and now he is a grasshopper squeezed into the pod only heavier.
I gently lift the foot straps and he automatically slides his feet through. Another memory flashes of when his feet had to be left dangling because his chubbly legs were too stout to reach. I secure one foot in its place and he says, “I do it” about the other. I make a show of admiring how well he secured his foot while with some slight of hand I fix it. I really do admire how close he is to doing it himself. Another blur coming in to focus on this journey. What will come first, the day he will secure his own feet on the co-pilot or the day we will ride on separate bicycles? It doesn’t really matter because I know in a blink he will be with his boy and maybe they’ll ride to my house to visit the old man.
He puts the helmet on himself. I always have to take it off though because the damn straps won’t fit over his melon head with a huge helmet attached. He doesn’t like when I take it off. I can never find the right words to explain our strap melon-head helmet dilemma. So, he fights me. It’s our brief ritual of anger and frustration.
Once I place the protective bar down all the troubles cease. It’s like a magic wand that illuminates the excitement and wonder of our pending ride.
I put my helmet on and we bang our heads together. Most Dads would just slap five, I suppose. I have a flair for the dramatic. Rather, I have a flair for unnecessary flair. Like a starting pistol the head bang sets us off on our adventure.
“Shall we chase the Garbage Trucks Ryan, hit the hills and go to the beach or just ride around till we get tired?” I sing out with vacation day weightlessness.
“Two hands Daddy!” Ryan cautions back to me.
I immediately and obediently put both hands on the handlebars happy in the knowledge that I invented the word “chubbly”.
Together we ride off in to the sunrise!