I often made some questionable decisions as a kid. It is part of being a kid I guess, or perhaps just me having some challenges doing the right thing at times. I’m sure you did something that your parents did not agree with, at all. I made those wrong choices a lot.
At the age of 10, I got my first new bike – and probably the last new bike my parents ever bought me. This time it was not a hand-me-down from the neighbor kids, some distant relatives, or some other means of sourcing bicycles such as garage sales or buy n sell ad.
It was no longer a choice of color and design that was made for me, but a spanking glittering new bike. I could (almost) chose for myself, as long as I picked the blue or the green bike in the shop.
I’m pretty sure my parents thought long and hard before dropping their hard-earned cash on my new bike. Back then, and when I was a kid, we did not get all the gadgets, toys, game consoles, iPhones, and bikes which kids are demanding today.
Basically, we had to wait for our birthday or Christmas to get new toys. The alternative was to get a newspaper run to earn your own money. As my dad said “earn your own money, then you can buy your own stuff … but spend it wisely!”
Being a kid in the 70s and 80s was awesome, and we spent most hours outside and did stuff that is frowned upon today.
I was over the moon and picked the shiny green bike, with big wheels and chrome trim. My grin was ear to ear, and my dad allowed me to bicycle back to the house – it was only 2-3 miles, about the same distance I drove to school every day.
Kids back in the 70s and 80s actually walked or biked to get around. We did not expect our parents to drive us, and an 80% chance that they wouldn’t. Or, perhaps it’s only a Scandinavian (and Dutch) thing.
All family members have bikes and we often went on a bike trip for 1-2 hours. We even went on a bike holiday once in a while, bicycling for hours, taking a few pitstops for refreshments, sandwiches or ice cream.
Getting a new bike meant freedom, ownership and responsibilities … the latter lacked often in my judgements.
My new bike was dark green. It was a popular color during the early 80s, and it had 3 gears. It was awesome! It was super fast!
One day, probably 2-3 weeks after recieinvg this amazing gift from my loving parents, me and some friends were out racing on our bikes. We drove fast through the forest on the old abandoned railroad track (no actual tracks, just a path) and had a fantastic day. It was a typical playdate with the boys, doing boy stuff, cutting wood with our scout knives and drank sodas under the large oak tree.
During our adventures, we arrived at the large hill in our local forest. Please note, Denmark is very flat, so a hill is in Denmark equates to a speedbump in the US. Anyway, we discussed how long a bike would go for, if we gently let it roll down alone – no driver.
Another lapse of not-so-sound judgement.
I volunteered my new bike. What could possibly go wrong in a forest full of trees and flying solo down this steep hill?
The bike hit a small bump on the track down the hill, which lifted it a foot into the air and drastically changed direction. We could hear the little bell hammering as the bike bump up n’ down. The chain rattled. The wheels bounced.
It was clearly a misjudged and wrong decision … again!
28 seconds later, and my once nice shinny bike was kissing a large oak tree. The front wheel was bent. The chrome wheel covers were no longer shinny and had battle scars.
How could I possibly explain this logically to my parents? Would I be able to hide this “accident”?
The answers are … NO!
My dad saw me walking up our little cul-de-sac suburban road, and rushed to my aid. He thought I had crashed, or worse, hit by a car.
I just can’t lie to my dad. I burst into tears and confessed to my stupidity. At first he was upset and visible disappointed, but then he did something amazing. He hugged me and said we all make mistakes … I just make more than others!
We kept it a secret from my mum, and he helped me get it fixed, on one condition. I had to start earning money to pay for the new tire, which meant employment in the family business.
See, my dad owned his own business and had already hired my sister and mum. Now I was old enough to join the business, as a do-it-all boy!
It was how we were raised. You pay for your mistakes and earn your own money. Nothing comes for granted and always treat your belongings well.