When we enter this world kicking and screaming for the very first time, although everything around our newborn brains may seem like nothing less than gigantic, the world we're actually exposed to at that point is pretty small.
We're immobile at that stage in our life, after all. If we're left in a room, whatever happens to be in our field of vision at that moment is the entire scope of our world. As we get stronger and maybe mom and dad buy us a cool walker-type of gadget with wheels or if we start crawling, our world expands inside our home, and maybe even into the yard, the driveway or the sidewalk out front. But, chances are, there's a gate or two clamped into place that keeps us from going upstairs or downstairs, and we can forget about ever venturing out of the sight of the responsible adults accompanying us in the great outdoors.
Still, it's unavoidable that our world gets bigger as we do. I recall the sheer joy of getting my first "Big Wheel" as a child and thinking that my opportunities for world dominance were limitless. I don't know how many Big Wheels I went through back in the day, but I recall being, shall we say, aggressive, as I applied the hand-brake to the rear plastic tire, tearing a whole in more than one.
For most kids who are too young to drive, our first real taste of freedom comes courtesy of a bicycle. Once we learn how to balance on two wheels, we see the world as our oyster, even though we have no idea what that means.
I started thinking about the many bikes of my youth the other day, after my family had purchased a new mountain-style bike that our oldest son primarily rides, but is available to basically anyone in the family who wants or needs to go on a bike ride and prefers the smoothest, fanciest ride available from our inventory in the garage.
But, you see, many weeks before we finally made the purchase, my wife and I asked our oldest son, who's a little more than a year from getting his driver's license, if he wanted a new bike. To my surprise, he was pretty lukewarm on the subject, completely non-committal. I wanted to shout, "We're offering to buy you a cool new bike and you're rejecting us?!" but I resisted. Our oldest, after all, appears to be a fairly money-conscious kid, and I had a feeling at least part of his reasonining was rooted in concerns over his parents spending a decent-sized wad of cash on a new bike for him.
Now that the bike has been purchased, though, he does ride it quite a bit as he disappears for hours on end on long summer days that, with each passing day, are becoming nights in more rapid fashion.
Page 2 of 2 - But he's not riding it as much as you might think a 14-year-old would ride a new bike.
And that's primarily because of a new addition in today's world – at least in the world known as Crookston and, specifically, in our neighborhood near the golf course – to the list of progressive steps that open up the whole world to young people who are knocking on adulthood's door. While the next logical step after a bike was, for generations, a car, in Crookston there's a whole crew of teenagers who enjoy an interim step in the transition from bicycle to full-sized vehicle.
It's the golf cart.
More than once in recent years, as I've uttered the default parent response to kids who complain about their trendy, expensive possessions that suddenly are no longer trendy or expensive enough, I must admit I'm kind of thrown off by this new golf-cart-as-primary-mode-of-teen-transportation phenomenon. Golf clubs themselves? Sure, that was easy. "When I was your age, I had a 3-iron!" I've typically responded in half-joking fashion when presented with the notion from a young person that his $300 driver is no longer cutting it.
But I have no historical reference point when our kids wonder why they aren't allowed to tool around the neighborhood in our golf cart. I'm relegated to reminding them that it's a "golf" cart and not a "cruising" cart, and that's about the only response at my disposal.
It's probably just a never-ending cycle. When our kids are the parents and grandparents, they'll probably tell their kids, on a 107-degree morning in January, that when they were young they had to drive their golf cart to and from school, uphill both ways, in 10 feet of something known as snow.