I always rode a girl’s bike. My two older sisters shared two bikes. We called them red and blue. The red bike was much smaller and had solid rubber tires. The blue one had big balloon tires and was easier to ride with no hands. Sharing bikes meant I always rode a girl’s bike and being smaller than my sisters I mostly rode the red bike. I loved that bike. Riding down the street doing tricks or leaving long rubber streaks on the concrete from spin outs were our X Games events. Two bikes and three children provided me some of my most important lessons about sharing. Deciding who would run next to the bikes, trading off riding and riding double is my first memory of taking turns.
Most of our friends shared bikes, and I was so happy we had two. They were our magic carpets. We spent our days playing board games, kickball, tag, climbing trees or building forts. Many days we just rode our bikes. We shared sandwiches for lunch and played on porches if it rained. Summer seemed endless. Trips to the beach and drive-in movies were the salt and pepper of those magical summer days.
Playing together we learned how to give and share and although we never got everything we wanted, we did get everything we needed. Summer was filled with games, new discoveries, smiles and laughter.
Many parents attempt to give their child everything they wished for but did not have. They fill their child’s life with objects, activities and opportunities they only dreamed of and forget the power of shared imaginative free play. Schedules and responsibilities act as magnets drawing us in and tempting us to take control of the lives of our children. Limiting our child’s independence hinders the development of free choice, imagination and sharing. Driven by our own unconscious feelings of lack we are stealing from our children opportunities for acts of giving and sharing.
Is your child given more than he or she needs? Are you fulfilling your own dreams through your child? Are you the manager of your child’s schedule? If the answer to these questions is yes, it might be time for a change. By supporting exploration through unscheduled and independent free play a world of creativity and relationships is visible to your child. Act now. It is never too late.