I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my kids seem to have a thing for motorcycles.
At this point, three of the four have their motorcycle licenses, and my younger son is making noises about how many more years are left until he can join the gang. I’ve even heard my daughter-in-law speak about them favorably.
I’m not sure where this infatuation comes from. My husband is not in the least bit interested in them, and while I learned to drive a dirtbike at age 14 or 15, and I once rode two hours from college to home on the back of some guy’s bike — an experience I do not remember but friends say is true — that’s the extent of my motorcycling.
When my older son started itching for a bike, my husband and I were relieved to learn that Virginia law requires a person to be nineteen years old before getting a motorcycle license. That bought us a few years, but once that window closed and his hankering hadn’t quit, we realized we needed to stop stalling and set some ground rules to minimize headbutting. So we decided that 1) motorcycle ownership was forbidden while living at our house, and 2) they had to be off our medical insurance prior to buying a bike.
Some other expectations that have been initiated primarily by the children and then followed without question are that they’ve each paid for, taken, and passed a two-day motorcycle riding safety course, as well as purchased all the proper riding gear such as padded coats, biking pants, gloves, boots, helmets. We’ve also requested that my older daughter, who lives alone, shoot us a text before taking her bike out and again after she returns home. That all of the kids have taken these precautionary measures illustrates a certain level of maturity which, in turn, gives me some peace of mind. (And when it comes to motorcycles, any peace of mind, no matter how small, is a big deal.)
Currently, the two older children have their own health insurance, homes, and bikes. Our younger daughter is still at home and on our insurance, so while she just got her license, she’s not allowed to get her own bike. In the meantime, she borrows a friend’s bike to go on occasional practice rides, usually with her sister.
So how do I feel about them riding motorcycles?
Part of me hates it — it would be so much easier if they simply never did anything dangerous or risky — but another, bigger part of me knows that I don’t have control over their choices, and I don’t want control, either. Even though I might not crave that wind-in-the-hair freedom that they’re gluttons for, I do understand it, and in spite of my reservations, I can’t help but delight in their excitement and joy.
I’m proud of them, too. Proud of them for going after what they want, even when it’s not particularly parent-endorsed or parent-assisted. They are their own people.
So what do I do? I try to not think about accidents even as I accept that they may happen — that’s the hard one. Also, I lecture about reflective gear. I admire their fancy helmets and bluetooth headphone thingies, and listen to their riding stories. I snap photos and yell at them to quit revving the engines.
And when they pull out of the driveway, I wave goodbye and then walk back to the house hoping — opleasepleasepleaseplease — that they’ll get to wherever they’re going all in one piece.