The Birthday Bicycle

For my eighth birthday I can vividly recall my desire for a bike without training wheels. My old bike with the training wheels removed just would not do. For one, my old bike had sparkly pink and white tassels hanging off the handle bars. This was decidedly too girly for this tomboy. Secondly, I believed that anyone with two eyes could look at my bike and know that it had at one time had training wheels attached to the back tire. Apparently, I had quite the b.a. reputation to uphold as well and this was not contributing to that. Never-mind that most kids learn with training wheels. People knowing that I had once used training wheels was just unbearable. So, I asked for a completely new bike. I hope you can relate to my child mind.

My parents were infinitely proud in their purchase. My new bike would serve me for years to come. There were six gears, an adjustable seat, hand brakes, a removable bell (in case I declared that childish or girly), and a stylish blue and white pattern. I would love it. Judging by the bright, cheek burning smiles my parents wore the entire day of my birthday I knew I had gotten my bike. My dreams had come true!

Now, if you have a winter birthday then you are going to understand me very well during this next part. If you’re a spring or summer birthday then you might just think I was a giant brat-child. Or maybe you still think that, well, to each his own.

All of my life, and I mean even until now- here at 24 years, I’ve been envious of my spring chicks and summer baby friends. Pool parties, water balloon fights, camping in the backyard, bonfires, and slip ‘n’ slides were the delight of my peer’s birthdays. They could choose to have their birthdays outdoors or indoors. As a young child I couldn’t fathom why someone would not have their party outside. I’m still that way. I love barbecues and pool parties, I love Independence day and any occasion to party on the lawn.

(I have a dream that one year I will spend my birthday on a beach somewhere drinking a Pina Colada reading a novel to the sounds of the seagulls and surf. It’ll be marvelous.)

Anyway, back to the past. As my parents were patting each other on the back they should have been preparing themselves for the oncoming storm. Not the literal storm, which I will get to in a minute, but the miniature storm that was about to self-implode in the middle of their living room. I unwrapped a suspiciously huge and strangely shaped present. (My mother insists that ALL presents be wrapped no matter how octagonal the shape. Christmas is an origami-cal feat.) When I saw the handlebars I freaked. I started screaming and jumping as eight year olds are wont to do. I ripped off the rest of the paper with sudden super human strength. I threw my hands around the seat and handle bars (it’s very difficult to hug a bike) and exclaimed for the whole block that I got A BIKE! Not a second gift mattered. My little sister drooling over a package from an out of town relative and my older brother trying to see how many paper birthday hats he could fit on his face didn’t even bother me. My golden retriever could have hopped up on the kitchen counter and eaten all of my 101 dalmatians ice cream cake and I still would have been in childish bliss.

Images of me zooming down the giant hill in my neighborhood flashed in my mind. I’d finally beat my neighbor in racing around the block. My best friend and I would ‘modify’ my bike with bent playing cards attached with clothes pins to the back tires so I sounded like a car that’s lost its muffler. In my hands was freedom. No birthday gift could ever rival my bicycle.

I was still in the midst of hyperventilating when my mom announced, “When all the snow melts you can ride your bike outside! For now you can ride it in the garage.”

Time stood still. I clutched my bike to myself and raised my head from the hard plastic seat with green eyes glittering with tears. They grew wide in horror as I turned toward the windows. In my excitement I’d forgotten about the four inches of snow that dominated the winter landscape. As if things couldn’t get worse, baby K, my sister at the time was 3, announced happily ‘snow snow snow!’ Mom and Dad joined in knowing I was usually snow’s biggest fan. I loved snowmen, sledding, building forts, and snow angels. Suddenly the words, ‘look Lauren, it’s snowing for your birthday’ really meant ‘the world is against you!’ I would be stuck riding my Schwinn in the two car garage for two more months.

So I did what any self respecting eight year old would do…I threw myself at the ground and cried at all the horrible injustices in the world. The starving kids in Africa, the puppies at the shelter, my life being cursed with two other siblings, and the bike I wouldn’t be able to ride for two more months because we would get one of the largest snows in our area that year. Never mind that I had a bike most kids would dream of. The concept of counting my blessings didn’t mean much back then.

As comical as that story is, looking back I can take away quite a bit of wisdom from it. As I meditate in prayer at night and sometimes as I get ready in the morning, I think of all of the things I have asked for. Whether it be a material item, a job, or a miraculous event I need I wonder about the timing. The phrase ‘God’s timing is always on time’ takes on a new meaning. Do I really want the ‘bike’ right now when I wouldn’t know what to do with it if it were sitting in my living room all gift wrapped and shiny new? Or will I be patient and wait? Being 24 doesn’t make this lesson any easier to put into practice, but at least I can appreciate it and considerate as I count my ‘have nots’ and the ‘haves’ of others.I just have to trust and allow for time. In time I may have it, in time I may not, but I will never be truly without.

Just a thought.

I hope you enjoyed the story!

Monday I will be reviewing Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian so check back then!

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One thought on “The Birthday Bicycle

  1. Ha! I loved the clarity in which you were able to recall such a pivotal event from your childhood this is a gift that many people wish they had. My siblings often remark to me… “How do you remember the most obscure stuff?”

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