Thursday was Take Your Child to Work Day at some companies and in some parts of the US. As is now usual, Pele had too much of her own work to take time off and see her mother at work but Rapunzel starts looking forward to TYCTWD in, ummm, January.... so I knew she'd be going.
Rapunzel's mother (that would be me) commutes to work by bicycle, a trip of about nine miles through sometimes heavy traffic. Rapunzel gets to work (okay school) by bicycle also, a trip of about one mile through sometimes heavy traffic.
Rapunzel announces her intention to bicycle to work with her mother.
I smile the smile of an animal that is dead by the side of the road, one of those smiles that is made less genuine by the way the lips are pulled back courtesy of rigor mortis and not happiness.
Ok not really as bad as all that. I'm proud of Rapunzel's bicycling and I know she is getting stronger. Last year she biked half the distance despite cold drizzly weather and then rode the rest of the way in our Burley wagon. In years before this, both kids rode on the back of our Extracycle because I am a total work horse hear my roar! Or neigh. Bicycling is how our family likes to get around and the more I thought about Rapunzel (who makes the trip to the Farmer's Market without turning an eyelash) the more I was pretty sure Rapunzel could handle the trip. I was less sure about whether the cars around us could handle Rapunzel with the respect she deserves.
After careful thought I beg Contraption Captain to ride with us even though I know it will make him a little late for his own job and he says "yes" and I am about a hundred times less worried. I feel tons better when we "fly in formation" as I like to think of it. Captain leads, scouting for people making unexpected right turns and car doors and utilizing his admirable rear-mirror-fu to watch for cars and trucks driving up the bicycle lane. Rapunzel rides in the middle, paying attention to the leads of her more experienced parents which means she moves to whatever side Captain steers her towards, she's a good attentive bicyclist. I ride in back, always somewhat to the left of Rapunzel so that the cars cannot pass her too close. Also, in the manner of a mother, I like to be in back so that if someone plows into us I can break up some of the impact of the collision with my body and bicycle, possibly sparing Rapunzel. Yes, I do think like that. Aren't you ashamed, American drivers, that it's come to this? That I ride hoping that my body will be a softening pillow between my daughter and your Ford Explorer?
...but all went well. We had a safe and peaceful ride in to the office even if the sky was not it's usual cerulean blue. Once at the office we went to focus groups on network and software engineering, had a nice lunch, and did some work together. When asked what her mother did for a living Rapunzel said that I work with computers and "open bugs." Hearing this a project manager said gloomily, "That's certainly true."
Mongol General: Chafe! What is best in life?
Chafe City: To bicycle with the wind on your face, to ride un-trammelled in the company of your people, to hear the lamentations of the cars stuck in self-imposed traffic jams.
Mongol General: That is good! That is good.