The sun begins to peek through my window, up early grabbing my shorts and shoes and making my way to my bike, I’m ready to hit the road and meet my friends and head to our track. Look at it, the chrome, the love I put into it, the scratches from multiple falls and the dents of the jumps I just didn’t make and it was mine, all mine.
The word Redline on the top tube, bulldog breaks, DK stem, Fox handlebars and the custom 3 piece crank holding the most dangerous triple trap pedals ever. I put my life into this bike and it showed by my ability to ride it. To this day I still see the scars up and down my shins and my elbows from days at the track, memories of the pain that I traded for the love of a sport.
With no time to be home there are no limits to the amounts of fun available and being full of energy the city is our playground. A favorite pastime was to piss off the WMU police and let the chase begin, never to be caught.
The picnic tables, park benches, curbs, walls, and fences nothing is out of our reach, nothing but the open road and a city open to our amusement “Ahh freedom”.
Only stopping to drink and to map out where we were going to ride next in our minds. Once again we set off to find the next jump and to try a new crazy trick with intentions of not killing ourselves in the process. Failure was a definite, and giving up was not an option.
I remember endless riding from the early morning until far past dark. From the old Nazareth track and Westerns campus to Portage and most the time swinging into Oakwood on the way to grab one of our favorite snacks, my grandma Jenkins famous pickles. These pickles were no store bought shelved pickles; these were the pickles that a pickle eater dreams about. Crunchy, sour and full of dill and garlic, perfection!
She would always slip me a few dollars for whatever and off we would go again to find a new trail to ravage. As I look back I think to myself I had no cell phone, no destination in mind and no contact information of where I was going or when I would be returning, and I was gone all day into the late night. Some nights I would not come home at all, no phone call no questioning where I was, pure freedom to do whatever I wanted.
Fast forward 22 years and thinking of our daughters and allowing this level of freedom confuses me and even makes me anxious at the thought of how I am still alive. I understand times are different now and the world has declined into the nasty hell it has become, so balance is necessary, the balance of teaching our daughters about life.
I was one of many, “the lost kids”, the kids that grew up without rules to follow or guidelines to live by, without a concern for others property or boundaries I did what I wanted when I wanted.
I still see the lost kids as I drive by our local corner store. I still see them walking the streets when I know they should be in school. I hear the late night laughter of the kids in our neighborhood as they make their way to the local party house.
Where are their parents?
What are they thinking leaving their kids alone in this world?
I admit it was a little different I was growing up being an 80’s kid growing up in the 90’s.
life was just simple back then and that is my point, today there is a rise in many acts I never heard of as a child. You know the saying “don’t talk to strangers” well that has an entire different meaning from when I grew up 25 years ago. With sex trafficking, child pornography and many other devastating act against our children. Who would EVER let their child out of their sight? How could anyone allow a child so young be alone to cross a VERY busy street and go to a store that I ask my wife not to go to at certain times of the day.
Today as I sat waiting at a red light I saw a very young child, between 6 and 8 that should be in school, looking both ways to run across a street with a 50 mph speed limit….
I thought to myself “no way, he is not going to run across this street” sure enough he did, only to get caught in the turning lane. As cars pass by him at over 50 mph on both sides, he didn’t even flinch, no fear in his eyes, no looking back to return and wait for the walk light to yield his right away.
He was numb to the normal fear of life. What has this poor child experienced in life that numbs his fear, what terrible life has stolen his will to remain safe and what worthless parents were given the blessings of a child they show a lack of concern for.
Now don’t get me wrong as I once lived and loved the blood, grease and dirt of a day on my BMX I understand risk and I understand pain. I also understand the natural feeling of “I want to live” that this child seems to lack. Who will teach the children of the world limits, discipline and what the value of a life is? Who will show them that they are so very important?
These lost kids if they make it to adulthood will be our leaders, public safety officers, doctors, teachers and backbone of society. It is time to look at what is going on around us and not only 3000 miles away, right here in our streets children are in need. We love to open our doors and have kids from around our neighborhood come for burgers and dogs. It is a small act of kindness on our part and the impact in their lives may just be the change needed to begin the building of self worth and to feel true kindness.
There are lost children here in our own neighborhoods and in our schools and yet we carry on like nothing is wrong.
Our own children may be safe; our own children may have the comfort of a happy home and there are lost children that are alongside our children as their peers and friends that do not have the small things in life that we take for granted.
Who is going to be there for the kids that are lost?
One day we will need them, one day as our generation ages we will call on them to be there for us as the backbone of society.
Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not depart from it.
Good or bad they are going to learn something, what are we teaching them? What message are we going to instill in the youth of our children’s generation? Where did family values go? Reach out to our kids, spend the time to get to know them, be a positive influence in their lives. You just might be the one act of love they needed to feel hope in this world.