Thursday, March 13, 2014

Of Giants and Flying Bicycles

I made a deal with Micah.

He's been having a few problems with his schoolwork and I needed him to take control of the change.

"What do you want as a reward if you do A, B, C, and D for the next four weeks at school? It can be anything within reason."

He chose going to the Arizona Science Center so that he could ride on the bike that is suspended above the main entrance hall--basically a flying bicycle. I agreed instantly.

Four weeks passed quickly by, and Micah stepped up his game. His work became more legible. His assignments became more complete. He tried to listen more closely to directions. Over the course of the four weeks, he never once mentioned the reward. Then, as we were finishing up our final work session, he said, "So, did I earn the reward? Do I get to ride the bike?" The answer was a hard hug. He had definitely earned it.

The night before I was going to take him to the Science Center, I pulled Micah aside. He had told Hyrum about the reward, and Hyrum was mad that he didn't get to go with us. I explained to Micah that he had 100% earned the reward, and that it was his time with me to enjoy a hard-earned prize. Then I asked him how he would feel if he were Hyrum--Hyrum loves the Science Center just as much as Micah does, and he was feeling awful that he couldn't go, too. "What if we invite Hyrum to come with us? He won't be able to ride the bike, because that's the big reward you earned, but could he come and play with us?"

Micah's first response was a not harsh, "No. I earned it, and Hyrum didn't," but I could see the compassion wheels spinning in those chocolate eyes of his. I walked down the hall to tuck Evie into bed, and when I walked out of her room, Micah was right there waiting for me.

"I need to talk you, Mom. Privately."

I thought I knew where this was going, and I was quite proud of myself for allowing him to make the right decision. We hid in the dark laundry room for a moment, and what Micah said next really surprised me. With a few tears in those chocolate eyes, he sincerely asked, "If I let Hyrum come with us, can he ride the bike, too?" Tears came to my own chocolate eyes as I witnessed this selfless decision.

So it was decided that all three of the youngest kids and I would head to the Science Center so the boys could ride the flying bike.

They were so excited for the entire drive to downtown Phoenix, talking about the displays they each wanted to see--after the boys rode the flying bike, of course. The museum was deserted by that time of day, and I knew there would be no line for the suspended bike. When we got to the second floor, the operator looked at both of the boys, and he said, "There is a height requirement to ride. You must be able to sit on this seat with your feet flat on the floor to ride."

Micah was about an inch too short.

I don't know who was more devastated--me or my boys. Micah had worked so hard and been so generous, and all he could say was, "I worked hard for five weeks . . . FOR NOTHING!"  And he was right.

What could I do? I quickly thought through our options, and I suggested that we go through the Ripley's "Believe It or Not," exhibit in exchange for the flying bike. The boys weren't nearly as enthused about this possibility, but that's because they didn't know much about "Believe It or Not." I had grown up reading every single book in the library and watching every single special on TV. I knew they would like it.

Luckily, I was right.

This chair was designed for the tallest man who ever lived--Robert Wadlow, eight feet, eight inches tall. Around the corner from the chair was a life-sized automaton of Robert Wadlow, and that thing scared Evie to death. She would not go close to it. Or to the life-sized walk-through model of the largest snake that ever lived. Or the teeth in the megalodon's mouth. Or the giant transformer made out of car parts. Or . . .

Evie is a little bit afraid of stuff.

The boys, however, ran from exhibit to exhibit, asking questions and pushing buttons and watching video clips about the cool, the bizarre, the rare, and the unexplainable. We saw portraits of Mandela (made of pennies), Bieber (made of candy), Franklin (made of stamps). We learned about eating bug larvae and building cars from matchsticks. We tried to snatch jewels from the mouth of a pirate, only to discover that it was a reflection. It was awesome.
We even saw a few real shrunken heads and watched the video. If I ever need to make a shrunken head, I  know how. Call me if you ever have a question about it.

The boys wanted to stop at Micah's favorite exhibit before we headed home--a brain wave exercise to see if you can relax your brain enough to move a ball to the opposite side of the track. Micah always wins this game, but if you look below carefully, you'll see why he quit before there was a declared victor.
I love watching my kids learn new things. I love helping my kids reach difficult goals. I love witnessing their compassion.

Mostly, I love "Believe It or Not," and how it rescued me from the understandable wrath of two little men that I love.


  1. this is something that would happen to me. yay for being fast on your feet;) any advice for making school mornings go better?

  2. i would have stretched his legs
    i felt defeat for him too! haha
    what a fun date it turned into!!!

  3. He'll be tall enough in no time! :)

  4. We are coming to your area to visit next month, so I love these ideas of fun things to do. Maybe you should compile a list for me.