This weekend, JoeKim is riding his bicycle a few hundred miles in Wisconsin somewhere. He has a new bee in his bonnet about riding in a long ride through France that only takes place once every 4 years, the Paris-Brest-Paris ride (I know, I know, make all the puns you want about why a ride to a “French Brest” might seem like so much fun). The Paris ride is like 650 miles in 4 days, and in order to be able to ride it, you have to qualify, by doing several rides through official channels. Today is the 250 mile ride, so Joe was (in theory) up at 5 am to ride, and will ride all day and all night, and drive home Sunday.
This is slightly worrisome to me. But, at the same time, I can’t very well tell him he can’t do it, because I’ll miss him (my oxytocin is really kicking in — Friday morning, before he left, I sneezed. Then, I suddenly became very sad that over the weekend, whenever I sneezed, no one would be around to say “Bless you.” I am having some hormone issues), or because I’m worried he’ll end up dead in the proverbial ditch. I suppose it’s good practice for being a parent. Our next door neighbor has 2 teenage girls who are totally nice and kind and interesting (and dressed as suffragettes last Halloween). The older one is going to college in the fall, but over the summer will be driving out west to follow around the jam band “String Cheese Incident.” Our neighbor was telling us about it, and when Joe said “Oh, you know what she should do?” The neighbor interjected “What? Lose her virginity? Smoke pot? All the things I’m scared she’ll do?” Joe just wanted her to ride a bike across the US to follow the band (um, riiight), but I can see the mother’s point. At what point do you say “I have raised a child who can make good decisions and collect all the facts”? Because that seems to me the most important role as a parent — raise critical thinkers. You can never protect them from anything bad or hateful or mean, but you can give them the tools to make good decisions about those things. Just as, hopefully, JoeKim is doing right now, and not trying to keep up with some man with tree trunks for legs, or swerving into traffic, or taking off his helmet because he’s sweaty.
And really, one of the things I admire most about Joe is the way he goes for it. He sets his sights on something, and he really tries. I very rarely invest too much, or try something where I really have a chance of failure (child rearing aside). I stay pretty safe. I’ll try a new food, or travel to a new country, but it’s not very often that I’ll try to really achieve something. It’s too scary to me. So, I have been (or at least have tried to be, and Joe tells me I have been) super supportive of Joe’s endeavor. Because how many people say they want to run a marathon, or climb a mountain, or ride 600 miles, and then how many people actually take action to make that happen. I really admire Joe for doing it, and for trying. And hey, if I can still travel comfortably at the end of August, I’ll get a trip to Paris out of it! Bonne chance, JoeKim!