Flying Solo

80_pinkbikeMy baby is gone.

She learned how to ride a two-wheeler and took off.

It’s a mother’s worst nightmare.

Your child is ready to spread her wings, but you just want to smother those growing appendages in a bear hug and hold on for dear life.

This summer, my little fledgling was itching to take flight and she used her beloved bike to soar… far away from home.

Too far.

Way too far.

What started out as a request to ride solo to the end of our cul-de-sac morphed into a journey stretching several blocks into an unfamiliar neighborhood filled with busy streets, dangerous roundabouts, and easy access to a freeway on-ramp.

“I got lost, Mommy.”

Those are the only words I remember hearing from my daughter after spending what felt like an eternity looking for her.

The thunderous pounding of my heart drowned out my kid’s explanation as to why she ventured so far away from home when she didn’t have permission to ride beyond our neighborhood.

I’m not an advocate of free-range parenting Can you tell?

My daughter is eight years old.

I’m sure there are some kids her age who ride New York City’s subway by themselves.

God help them.

As for my daughter, her scary summer expedition led to a lengthy lecture regarding various safety issues.  And I’m not talking about wearing a helmet whenever you straddle a bike.  My kid is well versed in that area.  However, what she needs drilled in her head is a go-to game plan that can be used should she end up in unfamiliar territory in the future.

Years ago, I made my daughter memorize our address and phone number by including them in a catchy song that was easy to remember.  She’s also been schooled in stranger danger and knows that if she ever gets lost when I am not with her, she should find a mom with children and ask for help.

My daughter has the tools to protect herself; now, it’s a matter of getting her to use them when she has to and not letting fear or anxiety overwhelm her in the moment.

Then again, I could take the advice of others and simply buy her a phone to use in emergency situations, but knowing my kid, the mobile device would get lost long before she loses her way again.



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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.