A few weeks ago my 9-year old niece, Toaster aka Monkey T, got a golf cart. Well, actually, her dad got a golf cart, but for all purposes it is hers. She is the one that drives it all the time.
Today she drove it over to my house, and asked me to let her drive me around. And then, she stuck out that upper lip that I can't say no to. So, I hopped on.
When J & I first decided to move here, I was unsure that it was the right decision. One weekend, Toaster & I went bike riding. She had training wheels at the time, so I figured I could keep up - death grip & all.
Things were going really well on our trip - until we hit a steep hill. Poor little Toaster couldn't go forward and started to roll backwards. She could not get her feet down to stop herself because of the darn training wheels. And before I could get to her, she rolled right back into a ditch down in the woods where I couldn't see her at all.
I threw my bike and went running to the place where she had gone down. Then I saw her. Right in the middle of an extremely thick briar patch with blood running down her face. The bike had landed on top of her, pinning her down so that she could not get up.
Without a thought, I jumped in the briars with her and got her out. There was lots of bleeding and crying, but her wounds were mostly on the surface. No concussion or need for stitches! I held her in my arms until she had calmed down enough for us to go back home.
It was in that moment that I knew that we made the right decision to move. Toaster is always so brave and strong, but in all her vulnerability at that moment, she had trusted me to take care of her. I was not about to let her down.
It didn't matter about getting cut up by briars, or the poison oak, ticks and spiders that were also down in the ditch. All that mattered was that she was okay.
So today, as we cruised past the spot where all of that happened, she turned to me and with a serious look said, "Aunt A, do you remember what happened here?".
I was taken off guard, since she is rarely serious, and I thought she would have forgotten about it after two years and many bike rides (but no more training wheels, ever) since.
"Of course I do T," I told her. "I don't jump in briars for just anyone, but I always will for you."
She grinned as we rode in silence for a while.
Then before I had gained my composure, she took off dramatically to the left, sending me crashing into the back of the golf cart. Well, one of us had to get a nasty bruise, and I am glad that it was me. I told her that. We laughed all the way home.