Daniel and Sam asked me the minute I pulled up from work, if they could go out riding their bikes. They wanted to ride on in to town... about 7 and a half miles away. I told them they could later, as the Gentry kids have already started school for the year. (We try not to flaunt homeschooling freedom in the faces of people. Today is PERFECT for biking.) So, they set off shortly after 1:00 pm.
Mr. C brought it up first... he worries about them going off "alone". But they have each other. And they are FOURTEEN years old. They are responsible and cautious. Tom speculated that maybe we worry more about the twins because they are our "babies". We began talking about the things we did growing up... roaming farther from home at younger ages. We let the older boys go off with hooligan friends, at a younger age.
I recalled one VERY scary incident resulting from Chris and Bill heading off with their hooligan friend Caleb. They had asked to ride their bikes in to Medicine Park (A couple of miles away). They wanted to take basketballs and fishing poles along. I vetoed the basketball... too much to try to handle on bikes if they were already taking fishing poles.
An hour and a half later, I get a call from Chris. He and Caleb are at the Post Office in town... and they can't find Bill! Despite my admonitions for them to stay together, Caleb and Chris left Bill behind... struggling with the basketball and fishing pole on his bike. When Bill failed to catch up with them later, they went back to the deserted pig trail of a road that went between the fish hatchery and the creek where they had left him. They found his bike, fishing pole, and the basketball scattered along the road... blood on the road... and no Bill. They had yelled and screamed and searched for him up and down the road... then headed to the post office to borrow the phone to call me.
I had my mail jeep, which seated ONE... and three kids from 3-8 years old. I couldn't leave them home alone and I had no place to strap them in, in my jeep. I only hesitated a moment before tossing them in the jeep and just having them sit on the floor, while I headed in to town. I passed by the bike, basketball, and fishing pole... saw the blood... and then was flagged down by a guy in a Fish Hatchery truck.
He had Bill with him.
Bill had wrecked his bike on the road and was pretty scraped up, with a couple of deep gashes. The Hatchery guys happened along about then and took him up to the Hatchery, got him cleaned up and bandaged. He had then tried calling home, but no one was there. (Because I was in a panic LOOKING for him!)
So I added Bill to the illegal passengers in my jeep and went on to the post office. The Postmistress was already well under way in organizing a local search party. (Small towns act fast!) She dismissed the gathering neighbors and called to cancel the Sheriff's department.
Chris and Caleb were relieved to see Bill. Chris was shaking. I'm thinking he was 13 then, so Bill would have been 11 or 12. Chris and Caleb rode their bikes on back to the house. (I had collected the fishing poles and basketball when I got Bill.) After dropping all the kids back at the house, I drove back for Bill's bike. What happened to "NO You CANNOT take the basketball"? and What happened to "STAY TOGETHER"?
So, Dan and Sam are going farther afield right now. But they are also older. And TWO boys are probably safer than THREE boys... just because the more boys you let loose together, the more trouble they are likely to get into!
Tom also had to fret that this will be the first adventure the twins have embarked on where I haven't insisted they take a cell phone. He was really regretting no more cell phones as they headed down the road. Sam made sure he gave me detailed road by road instructions of the route they would be taking to town. (I drive the direct route to work... the boys are taking all back roads- almost none of them paved.) I assured Sam that if they are very much later than I expect them to be, I WILL find them, no matter which route they take.
Fourteen. My boys.