Recently, on my way to work, I passed a father taking his three kids to school.
They weren’t hard to pass; I just needed to take extra care as I went by because they were all riding a bicycle.
The father manned the pedals, what looked like the oldest kid sat on a rack over the rear tire, the next biggest on the splatter guard over the front tire, and the smallest on the bar in front of the father. As you might guess, they weren’t going all that fast, but I wanted to give them a wide berth as I went by.
Just back from two weeks in the states, I’m in the middle of culture shock.
Over the years I’ve watched family and friends in seemingly endless trips to school and soccer practice and grocery and everywhere else [demanding jobs somehow get wedged into the schedule] and wonder how they do it. My friend Dan characterized his weekends as “chasing the kids,” in a tone that was more descriptive than complaining. He’s happy to give his kids every opportunity he can to lead full, rich lives.
Like a lot of parents I know, when he sees his kids engage in something, be it sports or art or school, he does whatever he can so his kids can participate and develop into capable, confident adults. As middle-class Americans, his kids have a lot of those options. And when he and his wife take their three kids somewhere, they do it in a vehicle large enough for everyone to sit inside with a seatbelt on.
So as I passed this guy taking his kids to school on a bicycle, I saw it through several different perspectives in quick succession. My first thought was “there’s something you don’t see everyday,” followed quickly by “please don’t make him lose his balance.” The concern for their safety led to a middle-class judgment of “that probably wouldn’t be viewed all that favorably by the car seat and minivan set back home,” before settling on a contrary assessment: There’s a father taking his kids to school. He’s doing the best he can to make sure his kids have a better life.
While it makes me nervous to share narrow, bumpy roads with a family of four on a single bicycle, as someone who believes in Common Hope’s mission to my core, I have to say I’d rather see more families like that.
I just need to slow down and give them a wide berth.