The other day I passed a family of bike riders.
They all had helmets on, with the Dad in front leading the way, Mom in the middle of the pack helping the youngest children, and what looked like an 11-year old as caboose.
He had his helmet on, but the strap hung to the side.
In other words, if he fell, the helmet would be fairly pointless.
I thought the following: “I wonder why those parents didn’t check to make sure their son’s helmet was strapped on properly.”
Since my leg is nearly healed from an injury a year ago, I have been riding my bike every single day. It is the most freeing, wonderful feeling I can experience as an athlete, as I am still unable to run up a mountain, so biking will do.
I ride every day to the gym, do a tough workout, and ride uphill the whole way home. It’s a killer, and proof that I’m getting better.
I grew up in the 80’s and there were no such thing as helmets for casual riders. However, I wear one every single time I sit on that bike as an adult. To me, it is the equivalent of a seatbelt in a car.
And so, when I saw that young family, I felt bad for them not having been responsible enough to ensure their son’s safety.
Later that night, I was on a date with my wife, when we received a frantic phone call from a stranger. Our son, Royal, 11 years old, had crashed on his bike.
It was 10 PM, dark, raining, and he had shattered his front teeth right out of his mouth.
We raced to his side, thankful for strangers who helped our son and his best friend, as they were traumatized, Royal covered in blood, broken teeth protruding from everywhere.
As I carried him to the car, him sobbing, Mom starting to cry, friend trying to stay brave and not break down crying, I picked up their bikes and put them in the car, all bent out of shape, soaking wet.
Blood on the handlebars.
I asked, “Where’s your helmet?”
He said, through tears and a blood soaked towel, “I didn’t wear it, we were just going around the block…”
Famous last words.
We have a family rule, where they’ve promised us, that you can’t ride a bike, scooter, skateboard, or anything without a helmet. He knows this, we have drilled it into his skull. Thankfully the sidewalk wasn’t drilled into his skull instead.
As we drove home to assess the situation, we passed the trail where I had seen the family earlier in the day, and now I was the Dad whose 11-year old didn’t even wear a helmet.
Even if it’s a rule, even if I’m an example, even if it’s a threat, and even if he falls off his bike and is lucky to be alive…it’s his choice whether to keep The Promise to wear the helmet.
I feel bad I was judgmental of that Dad earlier in the day, and am reminded how hard it is to be a leader, parent, and help others to make good choices.
Royal is now fine. His teeth were reconstructed, we have the best dentist on the planet, and they even let him hold a puppy after the emergency appointment.
Royal has asked me not to share his photos of the accident, or his new teeth, but I can show the photo with the dentist and puppy.
I just hope my son keeps the Promise he made once again and wears his helmet from now on.
It’s one thing to wear one, it’s another level to buckle it up, it’s another level to do so when your parents aren’t making sure you’re doing it…and hopefully will keep you safe.
I also hope you’ll consider the very simple things, like the helmet, and how they represent a Promise that could save your life.
~ Jason Hewlett
Husband, Father, Writer, Mentor, Hiker
- Speaker Hall of Fame * Award-Winning Entertainer * Coach & Mentor
- World’s Only Keynote Speaker utilizing entertainment, musical impressions, and comedy to teach The Promise
- Author of “The Promise To The One”