I knew the phone call was coming.
And when it did, the panic in his voice was loud and clear.
The mission involved my 15-year-old son, who recently purchased a shiny new BMX bike – a rather expensive BMX bike.
He had a summer job and I agreed to pay for a portion of the bike and he was thrilled to get it. He had his eye set on a certain one – not the one on sale of course, that would be too easy – but he was determined and knew the bike he wanted.
Having known Junior for so long, I knew that once he locked in on something, that was it, there was no changing his mind.
OK, it was his money (mostly) so he grabbed the 2012 model and was happier than cat teasing a blind dog.
He posted the good news, he told his friends and he showed off the fancy two-wheeled wonder. He also did something I did not approve of and warned him against several times – he would leave the bike in front of the garage, unlocked.
“That’s not smart. Someone will spot it and all they have to do is walk 30 feet from the sidewalk and they got themselves a brand new bike.”
To which he gave the response most teenagers prefer to give: a sigh, a brief look of ‘you worry too much pops’ followed by, “I know, I know.”
This went on for a while until opportunity knocked and I improvised a plan. Operation Scare the Crap out of Junior was a moment of inspiration as I came home from work, walked up the driveway and saw his bike sitting next to the garbage cans behind our travel trailer.
At first, I was simply going to go into the house and once again remind him to lock up his bike, but it was a conversation we had many times with little effect, so I thought a new plan of attack might be in order.
Actions speak louder than words so I put down my lunch kit, grabbed his bike and put it in the backyard.
I then went about my evening rituals as if nothing was amiss. I had a nice supper, chatted with the Missus for a while before heading out to my martial arts class.
The Missus was also going out and I asked Junior what he was planning on doing that evening.
“Uh, I dunno, probably go for a bike ride.”
“You do that, Skippy,” was my parting comment. When I got to my martial arts class I thought it best if I bring my phone into the training area – something I never do.
But, circumstances were a little different this time and besides I was really looking forward to his panicked phone call.
And sure enough, 45 minutes into the class the phone summoned me. Everyone wanted me to put it on speaker so they could enjoy the conversation as well, but I opted to take this call in private.
“Dad, did you put my bike in the garage?” was the first thing a very stressed teen asked.
“No, I didn’t. Why would I put your bike in the garage?” was my honest answer as I had put the bike in the backyard.
“But…I…I…thought it was in there.” The panic was reaching a crescendo of epic proportions.
I told Junior I saw his bike sitting in the driveway when I got home – unlocked – but I did not put it in the garage.
I could feel the panic reach an all-time high through the phone and felt it was time to let Junior off the hook and tell him where the bike was.
The relief was noticeable. There was a double blessing in the bike situation: first, Junior learned how crappy it would be if someone stole his bike and he should take better care of it. Secondly, I really enjoyed teaching him that lesson.
Since then, his bike has been locked up tighter than Fort Knox.
Like I said, mission accomplished.