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Diary of a Thwarted Bicyclist

Noon. I decide to try out the new (to us) double bike trailer in between lunch and the 2:00 arrival of Holly, babysitter extraordinaire. But first, of course, lunch.
Lunch is the bane of my existence. While fruit and cheese and maybe a little prociutto or bread seems like enough for me, it does not seem to me to be enough to sustain either Sam or Lily through an active afternoon. Every day, I decide that I must offer them something else. Not the same something else, of course, that would be too easy. Today Sam agrees to a grilled cheese (choice: grilled cheese or peanut butter). Lily is presented with a sliver of grilled cheese and a large pile of mixed peas, carrots and corn left over from dinner last night (and out of a freezer bag, of course, do I look crazy?). Lily gets apples, baked (microwaved). Sam gets blueberries.

Sam eats: blueberries, pear, the piece of cheese he took while I was making the sandwich, plus precisely 3/8 of the sandwich. Lily eats prociutto and cheese. The dogs, stationed on either side of Lily, eat slightly less than 1/8 of the grilled cheese, assorted peas, carrots, corn and apples, cheese, and partially chewed (gummed) prociutto. Lily plays her game where she throws her cup on the floor, and Sam goes all the way around the table to get it back for her (necessary because you can’t go between the high chair and the wall on one side of the table), and all the way back. She throws it on the floor again, and Sam goes all the way around the table again, and all the way back. She throws it on the floor again, and Sam goes all the way around the table, and then…the light dawns. He hands it to her, waits. She throws it on the floor and beams at him. He has understood the game! He hands it to her again. “I’m not going to give it to you again, Lily,” he says. She throws it on the floor and he hands it to me.
Moments later, she demands the cup again and we repeat the whole performance, this time for the video player, which I produce about every six months, use incessantly for three days, and then use up the battery and have to wait six months until I manage to recharge it again.
12:30. I tell Sam he can skip clearing the table if he’ll amuse Lily while I clean up. He stands over her in the playroom, making hooting noises. She seems pleased.
12:45. I gather bike, helmets, shoes, books for trailer, water, etc and place all in the driveway. Hooting echoes from the playroom, so I begin to try to attach the trailer. It appears simple.
1:00 Sam appears. “What are you doing mommy?”
“I’m trying to attach the trailer to my bike.”
“Yea! I’m excited! I’m so excited! I’ve never ridden in the trailer with Lily, Mommy. Whose helmet is this?”
“Lily’s.”
“Did it used to be mine?”
“Yes.”
I go inside to get Lily. She has given up the playroom and crawled most of the way through the house to find us. It never ceases to amaze me, how far she’s willing to crawl. She’s like one of those pets that always finds her way home. If you put her down in the yard at one end and come back ten minutes later, there she’ll be, plugging along.
I carry Lily out and put her down in the driveway. I return to the bike, and Sam approaches Lily, making the soft calling noises he uses to talk to her. “Here, Lily, here, Lily, this is for you, Lily.”
I look up a few minutes later as she’s begun to protest something. Sam has put the bike helmet on her, and it is over her face, and she can’t get it off, but she’s trying, lifting it straight up until the strap catches under her chin, then dropping it over her face again. She sees me looking and smiles.
1:15. I take the arm out of the bike trailer and try another way of attaching it. The whole thing goes over a little ball that’s already attached to the hub of my bike, but once it’s on, you have to put a pin through two holes to hold it, and that’s just what I can’t do. This way is worse. I propose a trip to the bike shop, and Sam says “Just keep trying, Mommy. Working together always does it!” I think he’s been watching too much Bob the Builder. How exactly do you inculcate the right degree of cynicism in a child?
1:30. I get the hammer. Minutes later, we’re ready to go.
1:35. The open road. Passengers pleased. Me pleased. God they’re heavy. How much does that wooden lock puzzle Sam has in there weigh? I can hear them. Lily wants the puzzle. Sam is giving her everything else he can put his hands on.
1:38. Lily is yelling. Sam gives her the puzzle.
1:40. First hill. Wow. Maybe we’ll just go to the corner and come back.
1:41. I’m pedaling desperately in the lowest gear. We inch up the hill.
1:42. Downhill.
1:45. Lily is screaming, screaming, screaming. Other bikers, walkers, people passing in cars with the windows shut are looking at me sympathetically. I decide to turn around. We have gone about 1.2 miles.
1:48 Uphill. Screams, scream, screams. “It’s ok, Lily. Shh, Lily, Lily it’s ok.” You’d think that would be me, but it’s Sam. I’m the one grunting.
2:00. Gas station. Sam knocks bike over onto my leg getting out of the trailer. Bruise for me. Fruit popsicle for Lily. Ben and Jerry’s pop for Sam. Napkins.
2:02. Sam, looking at Lily’s fruit pop: “I want one like that.” After much discussion of when it’s ok to share germs, I engineer a trade. Two licks later. Sam wants his back. Lily is very much attached to the ice cream. She does not want fruit pop. Not at all. I do not blame her. The ice cream has chocolate on it. So does Lily.
2:05. Another Ben and Jerry’s pop for Sam. I put them both back in the trailer. We abandon the helmet, as that seems to be what causes Lily’s screams. Maybe it’s too big, or maybe we’re going to have to do a cost-benefit analysis here, but for the moment, it goes under the seat. Sam is loaded in with his fresh ice cream. Lily is clutching hers, somewhat the worse for wear. She takes one look at Sam’s and drops hers, reaching.
2:06. Lily is done with her ice cream, but agrees to let Sam keep his. If you think I’m attributing to much negotiation and communication to Lily, you’re wrong. Trust me. She doesn’t need to talk. She communicates with the force of her considerably personality.
2:12. Home.
I’m counting that as a workout. I only had two bites of the ice cream.
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