SMELLY SOCKS: Heaven help us, the boys are mobile
Several years ago, something very unusual happened. A Harley-Davidson motorcycle "just appeared" in our driveway. My husband was standing up very straight next to it as the proud new owner. His "garage queen" is very shiny and very black with lots of sparkling chrome.
If you looked up motorcycles in a book, this would be the one you saw. There is no denying that it is really very pretty. Of course, as you would expect, Austin and Jamison loved every last minute of this obvious display of male bravado.
Then for Christmas one year, my parents got in on the action. All of a sudden, there were motorcycles everywhere, and we were constantly watching a certain movie titled "Wild Hogs."
Popsy and Mimi expanded upon the whole "males with motorcycles" theme. After John's new Harley, my father bought one for himself, and all I heard around the ranch for several months was, "Potato. Potato. Potato."
For all of you motorcycle non-enthusiasts, this is the sound a Harley makes while it is idling.
I don't know if it was the longing looks in the eyes of my boys that weakened Mimi and Popsy or if they just thought it was time to expand the boys' world.
For Christmas one year, a shiny, blue off-road bike for Austin and an equally shiny blue four-wheeler for Jamison were carefully placed under the Christmas tree with enormous red bows.
Motorcycle helmets and motorcycle boots were most definitely included. Of course, Popsy had to take things up a notch - he carefully applied red and orange flames to the helmets and motorcycles.
Jamison fit on his four-wheeler perfectly. He strapped on his helmet and then set off with a hardy "varoom, varoom" as he went exploring all over the ranch.
With a wild-eyed look in his eyes and a cloud of dust trailing behind him, we watched all of the animals run for cover as Jamison flexed the four-wheeler's power throttle. Jamison was in love with his newfound freedom, and we rarely found him off of his new "favorite gift ever."
Normally the daredevil in our family, Austin only seemed vaguely interested in his dirt bike - a reaction that seemed to confuse everyone.
He let everyone know that he liked it, but he did not seem comfortable or particularly enthused about riding it. I think he kept visualizing himself riding his bike into something and crashing it like the Woody character did numerous times in the "Wild Hogs" movie. His bike ended up sitting in the garage for the better part of two years.
This year, when Austin got out of school, I noticed he was out in the driveway trying to crank his bike up with the kick starter. He was handling it very well and was very confident in getting on and off trying to adjust the carburetor and numerous other things to get that magic sound he wanted - "Potato. Potato."
When John came home from work, he confirmed that the motorcycle bug had bitten Austin hard, and had sunk its teeth in deep. John took the bike to Bosart's and had the bike tuned up.
This past weekend, the dirt bike was ready, and we went to pick the bike up. Austin was more than a little excited to get home. As soon as John stopped the truck at the house, Austin was on the back of the trailer trying to undo the straps that held the dirt bike firmly in place.
Before I could turn around, Austin had it off the trailer and had his boots on. He placed a bandana on his head under his helmet and hollered out, "Wild hogs!"
Children have their own timing, and no matter how much you want or think that they are ready for something, they always surprise you. Only they seem to know when they are ready.
While we couldn't understand why Austin wasn't beside himself with excitement when he first received the bike, he certainly made up for it now with his unbridled enthusiasm. Timing is everything, and Austin's dirt bike time had definitely arrived.
He took off, and he shifted gears like a pro. Jamison was the ultimate cheerleader with hollers of, "trust the throttle," and "burn rubber."
I stood nervously by with my iPhone keeping myself busy by capturing the event with pictures. Luckily, Austin used restraint and, much to Jamison's disappointment, started up the bike very smoothly.
After a couple of trips around the ranch roads, he came up to the house with a huge smile plastered on his face and said, "Mom, if you get one of those black leather motorcycle jackets, I'll take you for a ride." He grinned again and took off.
After Austin put the dirt bike to bed for the night, he went straight for the phone and called and thanked Mimi and Popsy for their awesome gift. Although he thanked them when they first gave his dirt bike to him, this "thank you" was much more heartfelt.
He recounted his drive to them and how he upshifted, downshifted and "stalled out" but got it going again. Austin is beaming and now has a new love.
I have been texting pictures of Austin zooming up and down the ranch road, and I take a deep breath each time I write the caption, "Heaven help us. Austin is now mobile. My life will never be the same."
Johanna is a proud seventh-generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at firstname.lastname@example.org.