As a kid, I thought that hamburgers at McDonald’s tasted wrong. Same thing for any other restaurant. The meat just didn’t taste right.
What I was not used to, it turns out, was the taste and texture of beef.
Why? Because at my house, all the red meat came from elk and deer. Similarly, we ate a lot of fresh trout. And a lot of pheasant and duck.
My dad, you see, is an awesome hunter / fisherman. It’s what he loves, he’s extraordinarily good at it, and it is a joy to watch him in action. He catches fish after fish while everybody else stands around the stream or lake, joyless.
He has killed — with bow and arrow, not rifle — at least one elk and deer pretty much every season since he was a teenager.
He had his prostate cancer surgery timed last year so that it would be right after the archery season, giving him plenty of recovery time for next year’s fun.
I am convinced that his one great wish in life was for me to be a hunter like him. And there were some early indications that I would be. I’ve inherited his talent for fishing, and used to do pretty well in 4-H archery competitions.
But I don’t care for hunting or fishing. I’m not against them; I just don’t have fun doing them. Not interested.
Why not? Maybe it’s a carryover from a teenage rebellion thing — if Dad likes it, I don’t. Maybe it’s that I backpacked so much elk meat back to the truck from where Dad cleaned it that I can’t help but equate hunting with manual labor.
Maybe I’m just lazy.
So now I’ve got kids of my own, and I — like my Dad — am trying to share my passion (for bikes, not eating) with them. Here’s how it’s working out so far:
- The 13-Year-Old: My oldest son is quite possibly the most centered, ethical, honest person who has ever been born. He is smart, he is kind, he is friendly without being obnoxious. He and I share the same sense of humor, and we love working on the computer together. But he does not care about bikes at all. He doesn’t have a bike, and doesn’t want a bike. As I badger him about giving riding a try, he gently declines, trying hard to not hurt my feelings.
- The 11-Year-Old: The athlete / academic in the family, my 11-year-old son will in fact go out on a ride with me. But that’s the only time he gets on his bike. And when we ride, he finds a reason he needs to go home soon.
- The Twins: I bought matching sparkly pink bikes with baskets and tassels for the girls’ birthday last October. They seem oddly suspicious of these bikes, as if they were objects to be feared. The girls still prefer to be towed around in the bike trailer. Together. At age 5. Which is a good workout, I’ll grant you.
Where Did I Go Wrong?
Let me know if I’ve missed something, but I thought all kids are supposed to love bikes. I thought parents just gave their kids a bike at some point, and the kids started riding them all over the place, delighted in their newfound speed, mobility, and freedom.
So how come none of my kids care about bikes at all?
I have some theories:
- Spandex Avoidance: I go out riding in tight black shorts, stiff-soled shoes, and a brightly-colored, stinky jersey. How could they help but worry that if they start riding they’ll have to dress up like that.
- Pain Avoidance: I come home from bike rides all scratched up, bruised, and frequently with a dislocated shoulder. That doesn’t look like fun.
- Suspicion: I say vegetables are good, when it’s quite clear to my children that vegetables are gross. By extension, if I say biking is fun, biking must suck big time.
- Blog Fear: Dad writes about every little bike-related thing that ever happens to him, and then his invisible Internet buddies pile on. They don’t want to be a part of that.
- Helmets: I always make my kids wear a helmet, even though the rest of the kids on the street get to ride without helmets all the time. My kids probably avoid riding in order to avoid peer ridicule.
- Too Many Tips: As I teach my kids to ride, I’m constantly giving them advice. Useful stuff I have gleaned over years and years of riding. If I were learning to ride a bike, I would hate to have me as a teacher.
- A Curse: My father placed a curse on me that my children would be interested in biking to the same extent that I like hunting and fishing.
Has anyone else out there been trying to get (or, better yet, been successful in getting) a reluctant child to get interested in biking, or am I alone in this?
PS: The photo contest begins tomorrow. Make sure you’ve got your best biking photo ready to upload.
PPS: Hey, I know I’ve beat this to death over the past couple days, but just in case you haven’t, take a few minutes and go vote in the Bloggies. I’m in the “Best Kept Secret” category, waaaay toward the bottom of the list.
PPPS: Today’s weight: 173