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It smells like victory...

Where weak men see failure, strong men see opportunity.

At least that's what the poster in the SkyMall catalogue said. It had a bald eagle on it, so it must be true. The day after our failure to launch, I now had the opportunity to prove my ingenuity, my thriftiness, nay, my manhood by solving the great engineering challenge of the face swallowing helmet.

Instead, I chose to throw money at the problem.

I proceeded directly to The Golden Saddle, a Silver Lake bike shop, where I bought the Little Dictator a Bern Nino XS helmet. It fit perfectly. As a bonus, it has a bill that folds down to shield his face from the sun. Most importantly, it has racing stripes.

Pardon me as I pull out my wife's soap box. My wife has an M.D. and a Ph.D. I am also of the sciency persuasion albeit lacking any credentials with the exception of a certificate of completion from a Drama Conservatory. If you foolishly would rather rely on her medical opinion instead of mine, she will insist (nag, command, never stop banging that drum) that you need to slather on sunblock and shield your kids from the sun. Consumer Reports has a breakdown of the effectiveness of various sunblocks here.

In short, bikes are ridden outside. Outside is where the sun lives. The Bern helmet shields some rays. And it has racing stripes.

For fifty dollars. (gulp)

That he will grow out of in two years. (double gulp)

If your wife never sees the bank statement, was the cost of the Bern helmet really $50? I never said it wasn't $50...(I also added a double-legged kickstand to the tab while I was there.)

Armed with our newly acquired kickstand providing rock solid stability and the newly acquired helmet showing no desire to attack the Little Dictator's face, we repeated the launch sequence from the day before: Bike seat mounted correctly? Check. Child strapped in? Check. No cars? Check. We are a go for launch:

I pushed off...

I started pedaling...

As the bike picked up speed...

I heard giggles. I heard squealing. I looked back and saw laughter. Is there any sound better than baby laughter? After a year of cabin fever, joyless traffic, and fat accumulation; the feeling of freedom for both of us was intoxicating.

As parents, this phase of our lives is obviously fleeting. We are all intimately aware of the disadvantages of parenting a toddler, but we also get to experience the indescribable blessings of this time. Our trip to the park would've normally been a car trip with him in his rear facing seat or forty minutes roundtrip of stroller wrestling over crappy sidewalks with him hidden under the sunshade. By carrying him on my bike instead, I felt like I had immediately expanded the reservoir of magic possible during this time.

Little did I know I was just getting started...

Our first ride.

When I texted my wife the above photo, she was so distracted by how cute he looked in his new helmet, I didn't even get in trouble for sneaking him onto the bike.

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