Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why the Disarray in My Kitchen Delights Me

When you walk into our kitchen you see bicycle parts lying everywhere. Two bike wheels lie against the dog's crate, a set of bike pedals sits on top of the cat food container and a bicyle pump sits in the entryway to the dining room. If our oldest son is home, his bicycle leans against the kitchen table.

G., who is one month short of 15, discovered cycling during his first year of high school. His study hall teacher is an avid bike racer, and my son enjoyed their daily chats. Over the winter, G. taught himself all he could about bicycles: their history, their physics, and how to fix them.

His path helps me realize that none of us can predict God's gifts.

Over the winter, G. began cycling regularly, one or two hours a day. He made frequent visits the bicycle shop across the river to get his bike fixed or improved. By June, he had grown taller than me and my husband. The bike shop manager offered him work as a bicycle mechanic. Now, a rising high school sophomore, G. is training with the cyclocross team of the nearby university. He plans to race as a junior member when the season starts next month.

He says things like: "I just removed my front derailleur and shifter, breaking my chain tool in the process" or "had to replace left crankarm on my Rockhopper." Huh?

I'm sharing these details for a couple of reasons. First, because my husband and I are incredibly happy for him. Second, because these events provoke me into thinking how little we really know or can predict about how our lives or someone else's might unfold in the search for Beauty.

Had someone asked me when our son was a toddler whether he would develop an enthusiasm for cycling, I might have shaken my head. G. wasn't a physical toddler or young child. He was a cerebral child. He read constantly. He liked talking with me, being read to by me, and inventing villages with wooden blocks and Matchbox cars. He didn't learn to ride his bicycle until the spring of first grade, and after great effort.

But the changes of adolescence are as rapid and stunning and tumultuous as toddlerhood. They are also humbling for parents. Our son is changing in ways we never could have imagined. To live as a Christian is to understand that a Presence is with us at all time, loving us immeasurably and guiding our paths.

As the psalmist writes: "How numerous, O LORD, my God, you have made your wondrous deeds! And your plans for us there is none to equal you. Should I wish to declare or tell them, too many are they to recount."

While another parent might be bothered by all these scattered bicycle parts in the kitchen, I could not be more delighted by the happy chaos. As a parent, I feel so blessed to watch our oldest son find his own ways through the world. Right now, that path is a bicycle lane.


  1. I always love when you write about your kids - really beautiful things come out, so interesting and so filled with love.

  2. That's awesome. My husband developed a love of cycling as a teen also - it kept him our of trouble and away from girls (lucky me). That and he has something to share with our children: his love of a wonderful pastime and a source of great exercise!

  3. My son John Paul is going into High School in a few weeks. He could become anything. I don't know if we're ready for the explosion. It's an adventure.

  4. @Marissa: Our son already has lost 20 pounds because of the cycling. Plus grown a whole lot.

    @John: Hang on to your seats and enjoy the ride!

  5. I too love the happy chaos. Scattered computer parts by one, football equipment from another, cheer leading pom poms and thankfully a few doll accessories. Each trying to find their way, their strengths, their simple pleasures. Love this post.

  6. Allison, it is an incredible process to watch. So happy for G...and you. :)

  7. It's wonderful to find a passion for something, isn't it? Great that he found this at a young age!