Photo: Tim Macpherson/Getty Images
"Over my dead body” is the response I get from my wife when I tell her I want to buy my very first motorcycle. It’s a dream I’ve had since I was six, and first saw a Harley-Davidson rumble past my parents’ house. The sight of all that shiny chrome stopped me dead in my tracks. But today, the thought of me on two wheels, sharing the road with all the crazy drivers, scares the daylights out of her. She’s even more worried about how our two sons will react to my apparent lunacy.
Jonah is eight, and Roman is four. And, as my wife likes to say (with her finger wagging in my direction): “They worship their father!”
My affinity for all things automotive is probably why Jonah can name the make and model of every car on the street. And I’m likely to blame for Roman declaring Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” as the greatest song ever written. Yes, I do have a huge influence on them, and seeing me ride a motorcycle might make them more inclined to do the same one day. I’m not going to lie — that scares me.
The knee-jerk reaction would be to give up the dream. And if the boys ever did decide to get on a motorcycle, at least the idea didn’t come from me, right? But should I also refuse to take Roman to another monster truck rally so he never daydreams about driving Grave Digger? Should I stop watching National Geographic with Jonah so he never goes diving with sharks? Of course not. I never want them to be afraid to take risks — measured risks — in any aspect of their lives. So after weeks of arguments and pleading, I convince my wife that I have a plan to deal with the boys. My motorcycle gets the green light.
On the morning I decide to tell them about my new hobby, I set my helmet in the centre of the kitchen table. Roman drops his waffle and Jonah turns off SpongeBob.
“What...is...this?!!” they ask in unison, mouths agape. “It’s safety equipment for my new motorcycle,” I answer. “Daddy, why do you need it?” Roman asks, inspecting the sparkling paint. For the next hour I explain the purpose of all my gear — jacket, boots, gloves and helmet. I can tell they’re getting that this new hobby of mine can be dangerous. Feeling accomplished, I can’t wait to tell the wagging finger about my excellent parenting skills.
But when I finally take the boys out to the garage to see the gleaming red and silver bike, it all goes up in a puff of “Whoa, cool Dad!”
“One day when I get older,” Roman says eagerly, stroking the gas tank, “I can get safety equipment and ride it too, right Dad?”
I smile and get down on one knee, and answer softly: “Over my dead body.”