WOW! things are about to change...

it does not seem like much, but it really is something
my older son is making that leap from elementary school to middle school
going from fifth grade to sixth grade
progressing from John Eaton Elementary School to Alice Deal Middle School

this is going to change things... lots of things... little things that add up to be a lot

this will put my boys Dean and Grant into different schools
the boys will no longer travel to and from school together
mornings will be different
afternoons will be different

Dean will be getting himself to and from school on his own
his independence will be at a new level

wow... different.... very different.... very, very different
and well... although I do not know what these differences will be
these changes make me sad
just a little sad... a little sad and a little scared

this is the era of the hover parent... 
my son has never crossed a street without my assistance
now he is going to cross town without his mother or father at his side
it will be a big step... it will be a big push out of the nest

last week I shared an article from a father who rides his bicycle to school with his elementary school  age son
that father wrote about how their bike rides to and from school are going to cease with this move to middle school
sadly... my life will be suffering the same fate

that article... Bye Bye Biking Buddy

although we do not ride the bikes to school
we often run a system that when life allows I will drive the boys to school with their bikes
I would park a few blocks away and the boys would ride several blocks to school
then in the afternoon instead of driving to get the boys... I would ride my bicycle and meet the boys at school and then we would ride home together

this event will no longer be a part of our lives
our lives are changing
we are all growing and getting older
this separation of my two boys makes me a tad sad

work... life... conflicting schedules... laziness... all contribute into whether or not we ride the bikes
I try not to let the weather dictate our actions when considering the bicycle

yesterday I woke with that sense of apathy
my afternoon was free and I was able to ride the bikes with the boys if I chose
the weather was threatening and I felt I had a solid excuse not to load the bikes onto the car
but no... I fought back the demons and pulled the boys bikes from the garage and loaded them on the car

as I passed through the house I gave the boys that final list of instructions...
"finish your breakfast... PUT ON YOUR SHOES! YOU HAVE NOT PUT ON YOUR SHOES! I TOLD YOU TO PUT ON YOUR SHOES A THOUSAND TIMES ALREADY! put on your shoes... finish your breakfast and pack your backpacks... we are rolling out in two minutes"

the sky was spitting
it was misty
there was call for rain in the afternoon
yet I continued with the bicycles just the same... my boys are sweet, but they are not made of sugar... a little rain is no issue

the day developed
as the time for pick up approached I scrambled to get ready
the day had turned... the sky was black and it was starting to rain
a glance at the weather on the web brought tornado warnings to my attention
I took a look at the doppler radar

there had been after school plans...
my older son Dean was going to go to the pool with a classmate so I was packing towel, goggles, and suit
my younger son Grant was going to travel soccer tryouts so I was packing cleats, shin guards, soccer ball, and soccer shorts and shirt

a last minute check of the emails and I learn that the swimming pool plans have been canceled
then a glance at the soccer try out page I see that tryouts have also been canceled

as it gets closer to pick up time I look at the world outside
the sky is even more dark and the light rain is wavering between summer shower and monsoon
so... wet or more wet
I swap out the swim gear and soccer gear for rain jackets

again fighting the demons
it would be so easy to just get in the car and drive to get the boys
putting the bikes back on the car and avoiding the wet bicycle ride
yet I maintain my bicycle plan and throw my leg over the bicycle and pedal the short distance from Mount Pleasant to Cleveland Park

a quick down and up
crossing the creek and the up the post apocalyptic Klingle Valley
approaching the kids school a minute or so late
only to be greeted by a flurry of excitement

wind is blowing and rain is falling
there is all sorts of chatter about tornadoes as people scramble for shelter
play dates are canceled as people seek refuge from the pending storm
small talk is shared... worried moms offer us rides home with our bicycles

I try to set people at ease
letting them know that I am neither lucky enough to win the lottery or unlucky enough to get struck by lightning
yes... it is raining... but there is no thunder or lightning in the area
and the tornadoes? well... all that seemed to be south and out of the city

no... I am not that worried about the storm
what worries me is how frantic people are behind the wheel

there is some initial grumbling from the boys about riding the bikes
in part because our being on the bikes seems to be the reason that they are being separated from their peers
when that is not the case
it is the panic about the storm that is sending everyone running for cover

I have rain jackets for each of the boys... they both refuse them

the rain is coming down pretty good
immediately I have to remove my sunglasses because they lack windshield wiper technology

we are wet... soaked... one city block into our ride home we are completely soaked
soaked and smiling
the grumbling has stopped and everyone is happy to be on the bikes
the boys are requesting an alternate route home
in my mind I try to script a modification of our city ride home

the boys are taking it light
Grant makes mention of the sensation of the the rain drops on his body... saying it feels like pins and needles
I make mention of my love of the taste of the summer rain on my lips
the boys each taste the rain and offer up some sort of agreement

by this point we are all at peace with the rain
the boys are enjoying their wet bicycle ride home

across the Calvert Street Bridge and the rain takes a break
as we take a left in the path that leads to Walter Pearce Park Grant sees a bicycle and says that it is a "girl's bike"
Grant is going through some labeling of certain things being for boys or for girls
a day or so prior Grant told Wrong Way Ray that his bike was a girl's bike because of its pink grip tape

a discuss these things with Grant
trying to explain and refute his points
but Grant is adamant about this bike being a girl's bike... in fact he says it is a "women's specific" bike
Grant is confident that this is not just a girl's bike... not just a women's specific bike... but "mom's bike" the bike that was stolen from our house along with iPads, iPhones, and my car a few months back

I send the boys forward telling them to wait for me in the park
I loop back towards the man on the bike
he has stopped to dodge the rain under a Metro Bus shelter
the bike is in fact a Giant bike with skinny tires... the color and markings do look like my wife Lisa's old bike

as I get closer my heart rate accelerates
in my head I try to plot my next move
but before I can get to the man in the bus stop shelter he is back on the bike and rolling away
I chase... then roll along side of him

with my heart racing I try to find some identifying features
I look for a FAMILY BIKE SHOP sticker
I look for something to make me confident that this bicycle is mine and not his
my mind is playing tricks on me... I am convinced that this is my wife's stolen bicycle

this bicycle and its rider have all the makings of a "gray market" bicycle
the bicycle is a tad too small with the seat post jacked all the way up
the rider is wearing regular shoes with clipless pedals
and finally
it is a high end bicycle and the person does not look like a bicycle enthusiast

alas no...
I fight the confusion and look at things more clearly
so much matches up... but no
this is a road bicycle and Lisa had a cyclocross bike
the side pull brakes instead of cantilever brakes have me peel off and U-Turn back to the boys

when I get to the park the boys are enjoying the break in the rain
Dean is on the swing and Grant is on the teeter totter
my initial inclination is to rally the troop and push for home
then I realize that we have no deadline... we have time for the park

I park my bicycle and enter the park
young Grant invites me to join him on the other side of the teeter totter
I laugh to myself of all the lost memories of going to this park with each of my boys when they were toddlers
sadly the details of the past are erased with the information of the present

it is National Doughnut Day...
the boys put in a request to go to Heller's Bakery on the way home
not knowing it is National Doughnut Day... they just crave doughnuts 
I pull some store bought doughnuts from my bag

Dean denies the offer... Grant eagerly selects two different types... one plain cake and one cinnamon 
as Grant and I enjoy the post school snack Dean alters his decision and joins in on the fun

we eat our snack and then a few more minutes in the park
back on the bikes I try to alter things a bit
try to keep it interesting and fun
the rain has stopped... but that is no worry... we are already soaked

it is warm and no one is uncomfortable or complaining
we ride the final miles from Adams Morgan to Mount Pleasant with a detour towards Malcolm X Park
Grant grumbles as he fears that my re-route has taken us to the base of the hill, but stops himself as he figures out we are actually at the top of the hill rather than the bottom

the blocks countdown
on the busy roads the boys ride on the sidewalk while I stay on the streets
I bark orders for them to look for cars coming down the alleyways and to stop at the corner
as the lights cycle I instruct the boys to watch for the light, wait for their turn, and be aware that the cars around them are stopped and giving them their turn
the boys take alley routes while I stay on the street
we arrive home wet to the bone
wet to the bone and smiling
riding the bikes was the right choice

time well spent... a much grander pleasure than loading up the car and driving home
inside the house with no concept of what to do with the rest of the day I propose a movie
although Grant has already seen The Avengers he is willing to see it again
that is the movie that Dean is intent on seeing
it is also the movie playing at the closest theater, The Uptown

I give the boys instructions to get some dry clothes on and then give them some space to do as they please
they immediately go to the computer to play some games
this bounces me off from my desired activity
I move to the couch and try to rest before the 2 hour and 22 minute film that I fear would put me to sleep if I do not rest my eyes for a few minutes

the theater is close... but not that close...
we consider walking... we invite some neighbors to join us... they agree to meet us at the theater
but my need to bail out the drains in the backyard pushes our departure time back
we drive rather than walk... it is important to be practical
arriving soaked and late to the air conditioned theater would not make sense

we drive from Mount Pleasant to Cleveland Park 
parking at the first available space for fear that parking spaces will be impossible to find
we walk to California Tortilla where I know that the service will be fast and the proximity is close to the Uptown Theater
just as we walk in the door our neighbors arrive right behind us

our idea of a quick bite before the movie was identical to theirs
the boys are stoked to be with their friend
kids sit with kids and adults sit with adults
everyone eats quickly so that we do not miss the start of our movie

just as my older son is going off to middle school and things are about to change
this family from down the block is moving to Boulder Colorado
it is good that we get the kids together a few more times before their departure
their best friends or at least their most frequent playmates of the last 7 or 8 years are moving away

their presence will be missed
it saddens me to see my children lose their playmates
all these changes a subtle yet dramatic

next year will be a different year
it will be interesting to see what these changes bring 

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