It was a long time coming, but I finally have a paved driveway. It may not seem like such a big thing, but after years of mud and weeds, I nearly knelt and kissed it when it was done.
The girls are convinced that I did it just for them. That may have something to do with the fact that I couldn't park on it for about a week. During that time, they had free reign. They gloried in the fact that they could ride their bikes in circles (only because their bikes have white tires) and rollerskate to their heart's content.
Five-year-old Katie dressed for the occasion, but what she deemed appropriate varies. Once, she put on tights, a leotard and her dress shoes. Another time, I spotted her wearing only underwear and snow boots.
I can't keep up with fashion these days.
The day I parked in the driveway was devastating for the girls. They spent that evening trying to explain that my car doesn't go there -- they do.
That there's plenty of room for both doesn't seem to occur to them. It was 4-year-old Nikki who first concluded that it would be a blast to ride in circles around the car. I spent a nervous few minutes concerned about my paint job before I repositioned the car to give the riders a little bit more room on the turns.
As with everything else, we have a little trouble understanding the need to put everything in its place -- bicycles included.
We've had that conversation several times. You can't leave your bike behind the car. You can't leave your bike in the street. You can't park your bike in the middle of the sidewalk.
It's not rocket science.
Then again, maybe it is.
I've spotted Katie's bike behind the car twice and twice have made her put it away while delivering the "it's-going-to-get-ruined" lecture.
One time, a neighbor brought back her bike after finding it abandoned in the middle of the street.
Then it happened.
I heard the crunch as I was leaving for work. I knew immediately what caused it, but I got out to look anyway. There's was Katie's almost-new princess bike, still standing, but the back tire and the training wheels had become one.
Worse was the three-inch scratch in the fender of my newer-than-the-bike car.
I wasn't really pleased with how the day was beginning. Neither was Katie when I made her get out of bed to pull her barely functioning bike off to the side.
Two days of parking on the driveway I'd waited seven years for, and already we imprinted a not-so-pleasant memory. But, it'll take a lot more than a scratch and a broken bike to mar the warm fuzzy feeling I get when I look at that slab of concrete.
Of course, that scratch and broken bike had some effect on my warm fuzzy feelings toward Katie.
You never want your children to learn the hard way. It would be so much nicer if they took your word for things and deferred to your wisdom and experience, but ...
I realize that's not going to happen.
Katie's bike is fixable. In fact, it really only needs a new tire, but I think I'm going to hold off on replacing it.
After all, if you're going to learn something the hard way, there's no point in making it too easy.