Sunday, 21 September 2014

One of the best things I ever did.

I had just turned 8, and I decided I wanted to go to Schiphol to look at the planes. By myself. I had gone out there a few times before with my dad, but it was the summer holidays and I wanted to go on a little adventure. I figured out the route on a map of Amsterdam, and set out to ride from one end of Amsterdam to the other. My mom had packed me a lunch, the map, the phone numbers of some of my parents friends and family along the way, some money, and off I went. At about the halfway point, at the old Olympic stadium, there was extensive road construction, streets all torn up, road signs down, and I got all discombobulated. Turned around and went home.

Upset that I hadn’t made it, the next week, I set off again. Figured out different routes around the area that had given me trouble. And this time I made it. Watched the planes for a while, turned around and went home.

People are aghast when I tell them this. “Your parents let you ride your bicycle across a big city by yourself when you were 8?!”


Granted, it’s a city with excellent bike infrastructure. I guess they figured I was a fairly bright kid. But I set a goal, used map reading skills,
overcame difficulties, got some exercise, etc.

What do you think builds a kids abilities and self esteem? That, or taking them to the mall to buy them a video game because they ate their supper without crying about being lucky enough to have something to eat?


I still think back fondly to that experience, and realize how much it taught me.


  1. You and I are about the same age, right? I was born in 68 and things were definitely different when we were kids. Granted--you were in the Netherlands and I was in Hawaii--but I remember playing in the hills on my BMX bike until sunset and then pedaling home as fast as possible so I didn't get into trouble. Nowadays parents would freak out if the kids were unsupervised IN THE WOODS with danger all about. I do remember crashing pretty badly once--being bloody and bruised and limping home with my bike so my mom could patch me up. Those were good days. Good days indeed.

    1. Yup, the year before.

      Such a huge part of who I am and became is because my parents had enough faith in me to let me go and explore and do things - on my own. Or with some friends. They had instilled enough sense in me to know the difference between right and wrong. Those experiences did me a world of good.

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