17th Jul, 2008

A boy and his bike

If anyone’s been following my blog I apologise for not posting for so long.  I had a few little hiccups with the process, but hope to get into more regular posting again.

Trouble is I seem to have a long list of blogs I like to read, and some of those busy ladies post every day.  They certainly keep me busy.  I’ll put a list of my favourites in my sidebar for others to try. They are mostly other foster and adoptive families, primarily with kids with FASD, like my son Seth.

Both Seth and Portia have just finished two weeks holiday from school, and we all enjoyed the break.

Seth’s first day home he got together with a bunch of mates from the local state school he used to attend and they all spent the day out bike riding, touring the local “jumps” which the kids have made on spare blocks and council land around the township.  (A BMX track and skate park has been planned for our town for many years, but we’re still waiting for it to happen.  There are several ideal sites but there’s always some vocal residents complaining that they don’t want such a recreation facility anywhere near their home… so the kids miss out).

He headed off most mornings with water and a snack in his backpack, or pocket money for purchasing junk food at the local milkbar, to meet up with this “gang” of eleven and twelve year olds. He’d come home mid-afternoon grubby, sweaty and smelling like a boy, with a few scrapes and grazes on legs and elbows but delighted with his day’s activity, the boys he met up with, the places they went and the increasing size of the jump he could manage without falling of his bike.

It felt a little strange to have my twelve year old out of range of sight and sound for so many hours of the day without an adult in attendance – just half a dozen kids out enjoying their freedom.

I found  the spare mobile phone for him to take after the first few days, just in case I needed to contact him. I never did, but sometimes I felt tempted to be a nagging Mum and ring under some pretence. “Hey Seth, your sister’s just taking a batch of choc-chip cookies from the oven…come and grab some for you and your friends”,  or “Hey Mate, it looks cold out, did you remember to take a coat?”  (Like he’d wear anything but a t-shirt when he’s racing around on his bike!).

I know all the places they go to and none of them are more than a couple of kilometres from home, so if I really needed to I could jump in the car and track them down pretty quickly.

Sometimes after he’d been gone a while I felt just a touch of anxiety. I’m not sure what worried me. That he wasn’t crossing the road as carefully as he does when I’m with him? That he’s not keeping his helmet on all the time, because maybe the other kids don’t and it’s not cool to protect your brain ?

Maybe I’m worried that the other kids are a little more streetwise than Seth, and may convince him to do stuff he hasn’t even thought of yet.  Or that someone older (but not wiser) will interfere with their play and introduce less than innocent ideas to them.  Or it might just be that they’re being noisy and silly as kids their age do, and are annoying other people without me there to make sure he’s behaving well. I don’t want other mums looking at these boys and tsk, tsking because they’re running a bit wild.

Towards the end of the two week break he was out and about less often – most of the others had dropped off along the way.  At one stage they spent a few afternoons working on some jumps in our own back yard so that kept them closer to home.  By the last few cold drizzly days they were more likely to be indoors playing computer games, and that first week of wild freedom seemed just a memory.

I know books and articles on FASD talk about the need for close supervision of kids who are alcohol affected in case they get themselves into trouble with foolish decisions. They are often unaware of consequences and this can lead them astray.

Allowing my son more freedom than usual these holidays has probably set up a precedent. I hope I don’t regret it as he enters the teenage years when other teens will probably introduce him to less appropriate activities than jumping his bike over a pile of dirt. But at this point I guess I’ll just go on trying to teach Seth the rules and values that I hope he will follow as he grows up and hope that, despite having FASD, he takes it on board and behaves accordingly.

I guess that’s what we hope for all our kids as they grow up.


first off I thought you had disapeared!! I would come to look but all I got was errors!
SO glad that you are back!!!!

There is such a super fine line for letting our kids gain more and more freedom and there is that part of you that would love to LOCK them up till about 30!!!! LOL!! Really sounds like Seth had a great time out on his bike!!!

I would love to learn more about FASD I know a carer here that is really trying to get info but hasnt had much luck!!

I am SO jealous that your kid can be trusted with other kids! That is so great! Freedom for him and freedom for YOU. Tara is 13 and we only just recently started allowing her to ride her bike, alone, to the other end of our property. We live on a dead-end dirt road with only two other homes. So far…so good. But she doesn’t pay attention to what she is doing and could easily end up in the ditch if a bug flew by or a raindrop fell. My 5 yr old, on the other hand, I can trust to ride anywhere on his own. It is amazing because he was exposed to more alcohol than she was in utero and he is not nearly as affected…

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