I looked out the front window and saw a blonde, suntanned boy standing on the sidewalk shading his eyes while looking up at the stairs to a house that was being built but hadn't been worked on for months. He didn't look sad, upset or jealous. He was just looking.
I leaned my head to the side so I could see what he was looking at. On the stairs stood his three friends. They were talking and kicking rocks off the stairs, just hanging out. And the boy just stood.
He stood way out on the sidewalk because his parents had told him that constructions sites are not places to play, that they can be dangerous. They told him that someone owns those lots so you can't just explore there.
Watching this boy resist temptation and coolly do what he knew he should, even when it was hard and he thought no one was looking made me tear up. That boy was my David.
This same boy loves riding his bike with two of his friends. He wears a helmet, even though they don't, because his parents tell him to. He doesn't ride in the street because it's not safe. He rides on the sidewalk while his friends ride in the street.
He went away to stay with his grandparents for a week and a half. When he got home he found that his two bike riding friends had made friends in his absence with two other boys who also liked to ride bikes.
At first he was happy to meet the boys and become friends. On the first day, though, he realized that these boys also rode in the streets and that somehow this changed everything.
He had come to me a few times crying. He wanted his friends back. He could play with them but when they started riding bikes he simply could not keep up with them. He would just come home instead and try to be brave and not cry while being completely left out of his favorite activity with his best friends.
After a few days he told me about a plan he had to ask his two friends if he could ride bikes with them in the morning and they could ride with the new boys in the afternoon. I know this sounds like a good idea, but my heart was breaking a little for him. As I expected, his friends didn't agree.
David started talking to his dad about changing the bike riding rules. Dad was thinking about it. In the meantime the remaining two and a half weeks of summer were ticking by and David was spending a lot of time at home, left out. The main friend of the two would be returning to his home in Spain soon.
Last night before scriptures and prayer Greg had an announcement. He said that he had walked to a nearby store to pick up some vegetables (a job the kids usually do). While he was out he saw off in the distance David riding bikes with his friend. He rode on the sidewalk. When he came to a street he hopped off the bike and walked it across before getting back on the sidewalk while his friends sailed through the streets much more quickly.
There was no way David would ever have known that Greg or I would see him. Greg said that he was well convinced that he could trust David to do what he was asked. The new rule was that David could ride with his friends in the street, but has to watch very carefully for cars.
Of course I remembered back to the construction site story and got a little weepy.
I am so grateful for these moments in parenting when I realize that even though a child might drive me absolutely crazy sometimes he (or she) is a seriously awesome person with amazing strength of character. And how lucky I am to be allowed to watch them continue to learn and grow. And teach me.