Before Mom left to go to the store she gave me permission to go out and play. She instructed me to stay in front of the house and then added,”… and stay off that skateboard it is very dangerous.” I humbly promised I would just to usher her out of the house quicker. Mom telling me to not do something at the age of ten was like presenting Eve with a ripe shinny piece of forbidden fruit. I couldn’t wait to take a bite.
Five minutes after Mom left as I was deciding what to do, the devil showed up at our front door. It was the neighbor legion of boys wanting to know if I could come out and play on the skateboard. The offer was bright and shinny and I began to salivate. Drool was pouring from my mouth and the last words of my mother evaporated. I couldn’t wait to take a bite.
I ran outside as we all devised a plan. Mark was the only one in the neighborhood who have a skateboard. His mother ignored the universal rules of mothers and bought Mark this loaded gun on wheels. Mark and his yellow banana skate board were coveted and I couldn’t wait to jump on. But neighborhood protocol had to be followed. The hierarchy of the street was drawn up by age and no one questioned it. Mostly because the older kids were bigger and stronger and could enforce this rule upon those of us that were younger.
I had to wait my turn and I sat on the side of the street as I watched the older kids whiz by me on this plastic piece of heaven with wheels. As each kid rode they were encouraged to go faster and faster. The wheels of invention were turning in each of us as we designed way to assist the next dare devil in breaking the sound barrier.
“Ok, you stand on the skateboard at the top of the drive way and use the hill of the drive way to give you speed.”
“Now, lets push Wayne while on the skate board at the top of the drive way.”
Slowly we were inching closer and closer to wreckless operation of a vehicle but the adrenaline rush was intoxicating. Then it was as if the light of heaven shown down and illuminated the quiet bike that sat resting on a neighbors lawn. Then the God-given spot light moved to the jump rope that laid on the sidewalk. After pausing on the jump rope the celestial spot light move to the skate board. It was as if God was calling us to add and combine these elements. I am sure Eve justified to herself the snake was an instrument of God too.
Simultaneously several of us saw the equation and spoke it in to existence.
“Lets tie the jump rope to the back of the bike and someone can get on the skateboard and hold on to the other end of the rope. Then someone will get on the bike and pull the kid on the skateboard. It’ll be like waterskiing. Ohhhhh… that way the kid on the skateboard will be flying.”
The plan was hatched and laid and couldn’t be more perfect. It was my turn on the skateboard and peer pressure overrode common sense. I bravely got on the skateboard and signaled the operator of the bike/speed boat to “punch it.”
The sudden start nearly detached my arms from my body as I held on to the jump rope with both hands.
Intially, it was fun. My friends stood at the edge of the street cheering me on and I felt like my hero Evil Kneivel. Then as the speed increased, the cheers were drowned out by fear. Then the machine began to malfunction. The skateboard began to wobbled at the high rate of speed. Fear was replaced by panic and all I could hear was, “She’s breaking up, she’s breaking up!!”
Panic took over completely and now I was just a blur to my friends, but to me it was all playing out in slow motion. I leaned back and kicked the skateboard out from underneath me, still holding on to the jump rope. I was now parallel to the street and straight as a board. Then gravity took over. I slammed to the cold Detroit street flat on my back and elbows: still holding the jump rope. I was then dragged on my elbows for a few feet before survival overrode panic and I let go of the rope.
I rolled to my side and got up and over to the edge of the street. Thankfully, in my moment of temptation God allowed me to fall right in front of my house. Instinct got me to this point and now as my senses returned I realized I couldn’t breathe. The hard impact with the street caused the wind to be knocked out of me.
I struggled to tell my pit crew, “I… I…. I…. can’t breathe.”
The look of horror in their eyes was not comforting at all. I struggled to get to my feet and ran inside to get some water. I thought drinking water would help. I stumbled inside and in to the kitchen sink. I rested my elbows on the counter as I got a drink and by now air had returned. I silently thanked God for filling up my lungs.
When I lifted up my elbows off the counter to stand up straight and take in a deep cleansing breath I discovered the counter was covered in blood. The dragging on the street did some damage to the skin on my elbows. I was a bloodied mess and pain rushed in immediately.
While standing in the kitchen in pain and unsure what to do Mom came home thankfully. There was no way to hide my disobedience and I had to tell her about my ride with the forbidden fruit. Instead of the “I told you so” speech, she took me over to our neighbor who was a nurse and they dressed my elbow wounds with large pieces of gauze and antibiotic cream. Mom then took me home, gave me ice cream, and she told me to just relax and go watch TV.
For the next 30 minutes I just knew Mom was going to come in and yell at me… but she never did. She came in to check on me and change the gauze that had quickly filled up with blood and she just sat with me and watched cartoons.
Sometimes it so much more about parenting than adoption or race.