School: Park River Area High School, Park River ND
Educator: Kierstin Hurtt
AWARD: Honorable Mention, Personal Essay/Memoir
I was nowhere to be found. My mom had checked everywhere from the coat closet in our entryway to my pink flowery bedroom. Nothing. She could only assume that I had wandered off outside. If I were her first child maybe she would have been slightly more worried about my whereabouts. Was she kidnapped? Is she in danger and in need of my help? However I was the mere second child, so my mom had dealt with the whole children thing before. The first place she checked was my grandparent’s house across the road. Sure enough there I was sitting at the table eating an oatmeal cookie. I don’t know how she knew I was there. Maybe mother’s intuition? My attire consisted of a diaper and rainboots. Quite revealing for a two-year-old, but I liked to consider myself outgoing. I had walked over to my grandparents’ house to see my grandpa who always had an endless supply of cookies and Hershey chocolate bars. Of course my mom wasn’t surprised when she found me; I was very independent unlike my older sister Peyton. She was basically connected to my mom at the hip. I definitely was the more easy-going out of the two of us, and sometimes that was good and other times it was not so good.
Although I was very easy-going, I was extremely competitive. I learned how to ride a bike without training wheels when I was four years old because I didn’t like how other kids could do it and I couldn’t. When I first started learning I practiced at daycare every day for weeks. I even ran my bike into an evergreen tree, and had to spend the rest of the day picking the sappy needles out of my hair, but that didn’t stop me. After many wipe outs, I had finally mastered the art of the bike. I could basically taste the freedom as I rode up and down the driveway of our house. I explored the many corners of our small farmyard all summer long. When my birthday came around the next spring my parents surprised me with a brand new pink bike complete with a bell and flowy ribbons connected to the handlebars. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever witnessed.
Later that summer my mom decided to take Peyton and me on a walk to Homme Dam. I decided that I was going to ride my bike instead. I asked Peyton if she wanted to ride her bike too, but she said she would rather walk. Personally, I thought she still didn’t know how to ride her bike, but she would never admit that. This was the first time I was going to ride my bike outside of my yard. I filled up with enough excitement and curiosity to fill an ocean. As we left I turned onto the bike path, and in front of me was open road that seemed to run for miles and miles. However my excitement was quickly drained away by the fact that I could only ride my bike as fast as my mother and sister could walk. If you have ever ridden a bike with someone who is walking you would understand how sluggishly slow you have to pedal. Sometimes it is so slow you feel as if your bike is going to tip over. Though the scenery was nice on the way there, I could only think about how slow I had to go. It was ruining the entire journey. When we finally reached Homme Dam, I told my mom I couldn’t bear going this slow any longer. She told me I could ride ahead of us as long as I didn’t cross the highway, so naturally, I took off down the bike path. I couldn’t believe how fast I was going. The wind was blowing through my hair as I glided around curves and swerved to avoid potholes. I felt as free as a bird. My mom and sister had slowly gotten smaller behind me until they were completely gone. I was so ahead of them! I sped up to make sure they wouldn’t catch me; I had to get home first. I reached where the highway intersects the bike path and stopped my bike. My mom and sister were so far behind I couldn’t even see where they were. It was going to be a very long wait.
Then I realized that if I waited for them they could possibly beat me home. I could not let that happen. No way in a million years could I ever let that happen. I looked down the highway. Left, right, and left again. No cars were coming, so I figured what’s the harm? I started pedaling my bike across the highway until I reached the other side. My adrenaline was pumping, and I started pedaling faster and faster. When the bike path ended I stopped my bike again. If I turned right I would be on the road to my house. It was only about a half a mile away. Mom didn’t want me on the road, but I had been so careful when crossing the highway. I needed to prove to her that I was careful enough to ride by myself on the road, and this was the perfect opportunity to do it. I looked left, right, and left again. No cars were coming, so I set off towards my house. My adrenaline was pumping even more now, and I was going faster than I ever have in my entire life. I zoomed past the old folks home, and then I passed Mr. Moe’s yard where he was working. There was no way they would beat me now! Soon enough I made it to my yard. As I coasted in I waved to my grandpa who was in his front yard raking leaves. He looked a little confused as to why I was by myself, but I figured my mom would tell him all about how I was responsible and crossed the road all by myself when she got back.
I walked into my house and sat down on my couch; I was drained. Bike riding is tough work. I put my feet up and relaxed. I was idling in the fact that I beat my mom and sister home. I was the winner. A couple minutes later I heard my mom walk into the house. I noticed when she walked in she was panting like she had run the whole way home. I smirked at her and said, “I beat you.”
She looked back at me with more rage in her eyes than I could comprehend and replied, “And now I am going to beat you!” I didn’t feel much like a winner after that.
Even though my mom didn’t physically beat me she made it pretty clear that what I had done was the exact opposite of responsible. At the time I didn’t really understand my mom’s anger. Apparently, I had not considered the dangers of being hit by a car or being kidnapped when I rode home by myself. She was angrier than I had ever seen her, and I had seen her angry a considerable amount of times. Getting in trouble wasn’t that unusual of a thing for me, but this time it was different. I felt pretty bad too, because I didn’t listen and because she had to run two miles home when she realized I wasn’t waiting for her at the highway. That was pretty rough. I also realized how scary the situation actually was when she was yelling at me. Anything could have happened to me and no one would have known.
I started crying because I felt so bad for making my mom feel this way. I had been selfish and put my wants before what was the right thing to do. Though I deserved it, the worst thing was when she grounded me. Usually, when I got grounded I got TV taken away for a week, but I knew this time I would get a little harsher punishment. I was expecting to get TV taken away for at least a month, but instead she did something much worse. She took away my bike. My beautiful pink bike was locked in the shed. I was forced to walk for what felt like months. It was the worst punishment I had ever had.
Even though I was quite young when this happened I’m still affected by it today. Whenever I come to a crossroad I think about the time I sat in front of the highway and contemplated whether I should cross the road. I knew it was wrong, but I still crossed the road because I was only thinking about myself. Since then I have always considered every outcome when come to make a decision. I have become less easy-going and more cautious. The experience has made me an overall more responsible person.