With our 15th wedding anniversary approaching, I wondered what early gift my husband had planned to entertain us with this year.
The answer came in the form of an ATV named Grizzly that he parked beside my minivan.
“Are you ready to ride?” he asked.
“Huh? What are we going to do with this?” I asked.
I hopped onto this camouflaged-colored Grizzly with him and we zoomed away to a dirt trail near our home.
What could have precipitated this? A few weeks earlier, my husband joined his brothers on ATVs along a muddy trail ride in the country.
He’d been hinting about getting one ever since.
I guess it’s not such a bad thing. In fact, it sort of reminded me of our more daring moments as a younger married couple when we jet-skied, snorkeled and swam in the ocean together.
I felt my younger self emerging. I put my hand on the accelerator and gassed Grizzly through our yard until we reached a large field with dirt trails.
After a lot of jerking and jolting, I tried slowing down for dips and bumps on the trail.
My husband reminded me as he rode on back, “You don’t have to slow down. Just ride through it.”
I picked up my speed and dived into the dirt heaps, the wind and dust flying in my face.
My minivan couldn’t compare to this rockin’ ATV.
There were no stop signs, red lights, pavement or traffic to slow me down or alter my route. It was just me, my husband and a dirt trail.
Of course, with schoolkids at home, we are establishing some new rules, both for ourselves and for our children.
Living in a rural community where ATVs are common, it is rare to see adults or children wearing helmets.
My 10-year-old son balked at the idea of having to wear one because none of his friends do. But my husband and I agreed helmets would be a prerequisite to ride.
While ATV’s are indeed fun, they are dangerous.
A 12-year-old boy was killed in July in St. Helena Parish after flipping an ATV, and a 6-year-old boy died and another child was injured in an ATV crash in Greenwell Springs in May.
I do not know whether those children wore helmets, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that hundreds of ATV riders die or suffer life-altering injuries from riding ATVs without helmets.
Nationwide in 2012, 56 kids younger than 16 died in ATV accidents and 26,500 were injured in ATV accidents, the commission reported.
The commission recommends that children under 16 not ride adult ATVs.
As ATV online blogger/writer Matt Finley wrote, it is up to parents to protect their children and wearing a helmet can mean the difference between life and death.
I am looking forward to riding the trails, but always with safety in mind for my family.
Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.