Ben gave me a 20-week Fitness Challenge which will take us right through summer and hopefully become so habit forming, that we never stop doing a little something every day that is good for us.

Together, we have walked, and ridden bikes and even tried a little running. We are building up our hearts and lungs with longer walks to get ready for even more running. We live in the country and have endless paths to walk or ride in every direction with lovely views all around.

Today, he wanted to ride his bike while I walked. We were set on going a really long way to this little chapel on a hill, that I’d wanted to walk to on Easter, but it was too far for him in the shoes he was wearing. So, he rode, and I walked. He’d get ahead of me and circle back. He would ride slow as I walked fast, and we talked. This has become the most meaningful part of my day – just getting to have all this time to check in and hear what’s on his mind.

As we got to the edge of a really long downhill, he looked at me with excitement in his eyes, wondering if I’d let him go as fast as his bike would take him all the way down that hill. And I did. And I watched him soar with his jacket flying behind him. I could hear his laughter, and when the road started to straighten out, he swooped left and right, in and out of the yellow lines until his bike started to slow down. It was absolutely a thing of beauty to see him exhilarated by that much freedom, speed, and the wind in his face.

I remembered that my husband said that his bike meant freedom to him when he was a kid. He would ride on the cow paths in the canyon behind his house. He and his friends would take off into the woods of the East Bay across from San Francisco and fly around corners and up hills and down until dark and they had to go home.

Kids today don’t have nearly as much freedom as we did growing up. They are more sheltered, and protected. They need to be. The world has gotten much more scary since we were little, but oh, when we can give them a little bit of freedom and see them relish it and revel in it, and be brave and bold and go toward it because it is exciting and a little bit scary and they might get the wind knocked out of them, but that’s half the fun – I think we need to hold back our own hearts that want to protect maybe a little too much sometimes – and let them ride the wind.

They are getting older every day. Soon, Ben will be in Middle School. As the boys get older and want to challenge themselves more and more, it will become even more important for me to let them experiment with freedom of many kinds. I get to trust them and watch them learn as they go toward becoming good men.

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