It’s funny the things people say when they find out your eighteen year old son is about to purchase his first motor bike. “Did you let him?” is one that comes to mind. The comment itself is something that is foreign to the way I think. I didn’t “let” him, because it wasn’t something he needed permission to do. He is, by all intents and purposes, legally an adult. I didn’t attempt to forbid him from buying one; nor was he given “permission”. It was a decision he made, and talked to us about. He told us his reasons for wanting one, including fun of course, but also the fact that it is a much more economical way to get around than his car (which he will be keeping and using sometimes too – when it’s not at the mechanics!) I reminded him that my first boyfriend had died in a motorbike accident, so I was painfully aware of the risks, and he respects that it is a “big thing” for me. We have also already buried one son, and really have no desire to bury another.
Whilst there are certainly inherent dangers in motor bike riding (as there are with many things), I bet you didn’t know that you’re about 21 times more likely to sustain a serious injury from riding a horse! (According to figures from Stoke Mandeville Hospital.) I guess I’d better re-think my daughter’s horse riding lessons! Not. Life is risky. From the moment of conception right through til the oldest person ever to have lived, we are surrounded by risk and the possibility of hurt or injury. Better to live a fully, happy life, than live in fear of what might happen. I’m not talking about ridiculous risks here of course, and it is good to be aware of ways in which we can increase our likelihood of being safe.
We discussed some safety issues, and he has shared some of what he learned in his rider training course. I was actually quite impressed with the information he’d been given, and his preparedness for riding as safely as possible. And I admired the way that he had specifically asked the instructor for some advice for his first trip on the bike: a three hour drive that would take him through unfamiliar streets in the largest city in Australia, and then along a long stretch of freeway, which is notorious for trucks and cars whizzing past.
He seems to have a good understanding of the dangers and the need for wise riding, coupled with confidence, excitement, and a love of the adrenaline rush he knew he’d get from riding. When he returned home from that first trip, detouring past most of his friends houses on the way home to show off his new pride and joy, I asked him how it had gone. He said it was “SO different to driving a car… you feel so much more ALIVE somehow; it’s so awesome!” I managed to have a laugh about how I hope he STAYS alive, but basically, it was so wonderful to see his enthusiasm, and to know that he is following his heart. Yes, MY heart wants to jump up into my mouth occasionally, but for the most part I am choosing to trust, and to enjoy his joy! It feels good to support him in his passion, just as it feels good when people support me in mine. And yes, I know all too well that sometimes bad things happen to good people, but I think there is more than one way to interpret that. Sometimes the “bad thing” is having a parent who doesn’t support or encourage you, who reacts out of fear instead of hope. And that’s a bad thing no matter what.
Instead, I choose the goodness of trust, hope, faith, support, connection and encouragement.