Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Nine Million Bicycles - A Book Review

From the moment that baby bump is visible you become public property.  Public opinion of you, your choices and how you parent follows you.  No matter what you do people will disagree, sometimes very publicly.  This, paired with your own personal doubts and insecurities can be tough to handle, particularly if you follow a non-traditional path.  The internal voice inside your head as you try to do what's right for your family can be a terrible critic, even without the parentrazzi* on your tail.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference." Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken.
The Vogel family has definitely taken the road less travelled.  In Nancy Sathre-Vogel's newest book, Changing Gears, A Family Odyssey to the End of the World she chronicles her family's three year adventure as they travel from the top of Alaska to the tip of Argentina in pursuit of A Guinness World Record and an experiential education.
The Journey - Day 1
Her honest account of their passage through the Americas is an engrossing and inspiring read.  Vogel discusses everything from facing off against a bear at the side of the road, to critics who feel they are robbing their ten year old twins of their childhood.  I especially loved her take on a mother's guilt surrounding stuffing her boys with Oreos for breakfast.  
This book opened up a lot of discussion between my husband Chris and I about the things we want to teach our children and why.  It got us debating what age children have free will and decision making power and what type of non-traditional educational tools and experiences we want for our kids. 
These candid snippets of a mother's story will not disappoint.  The family's experience with helpful strangers, friendships developed over social media, fellow cyclists and bikers (AKA the road angels) help show that the world isn't such a big bad place, most of the time.  This book has inspired me to seek out more adventures for our twins to teach them about the world around them, but for now, at 20 months old, I'm thinking more camping and hiking.
People who are interested in/enjoy this book might also want to explore Vogel's other titles: Bicycle Touring With Children, A Guide to Getting Started or Twenty Miles Per Cookie, 9000 miles of Kid Powered Adventures
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*I wish I could claim credit for this, but when I Googled it, it already existed, but people generally are referring to proud parents taking photos, not the build em up and tear them down spin aspect that I mean.

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