“Get a bike helmet!”

Summer in Germany. My boy is big enough to sit in a seat mounted on the back of my bike. We go for a ride through the pedestrian zone. Saturday. Lots going on. We come to a street crossing. Narrow street, cars moving slowly. Red man showing. I remain standing. Son on bike next to me. Next to him an elderly gentleman. Looks me sternly in the eye. I sense something coming.

“Ihr Kind hat keinen Helm auf. Das ist von Ihnen äußerst unverantwortlich!” –  “Your son does not have a bike helmet on. Very, very irresponsible of you!” Before I can react the red man turns to a green man. Folks move across the street quickly. He was right. My son should have had a bicycle helmet on.

Three years later, while taking him to kindergarten on the bike, it suddenly slipped out from under me. A very slight amount of powdery snow was enough to do it. I heard my son‘s head hit the pavement. A plastic sound. He had his helmet on. That arrogant, cranky old man giving unsolicited advice. I wish I could thank him.

“Get a bike helmet!”

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