You’re only as fast as your slowest team member

Posted on August 22, 2012

You're only as fast as your slowest teamSince our move to The Old Girl, the boys and I have been walking to school every morning. Or rather, it began with us all walking, but now they ride their bikes while I run along behind, carrying Mr5’s bag like a Sherpa (because he can’t seem to ride with his eyes open and balance a bag at the same time), shouting ‘don’t forget to check the driveways’ at regular intervals.

The first time we ventured out onto the streets, after months (and years in some cases) of practising at the showground, on bike paths and in the driveways, they were both very cautious. Mr5 wouldn’t leave my side. Mr8 put on some Big Brother Bravado and ventured ahead, but he was quick to stop when I shouted and would actually stop at every driveway, look right and left, and then ride on.

Now, they are waiting at the end of the drive by the time I lock the back door. By the time I get to the end of the drive, they are down at the first corner – where they must wait until I arrive, puffing, to escort them across the street.

As soon as they hit footpath again, they’re off, ‘check the driveways’ ringing in their ears, a quick glance sufficing as they sail past each house front. They are at the next corner, waiting patiently, by the time I get past the first property.

And so we do this dance all the way to school. Race off at 100 miles an hour. Stop, wait for mum. Race off at 100 miles an hour. Stop, wait for mum.

“You must be getting to school much quicker now that they’re riding,” said The Builder to me over dinner one night.

We all looked at each other.

“We can only go as fast as Mum,” said Mr8.

We all looked at each other.

“Which is fast enough,” said Mr5, patting my hand.

I wonder if Tenzing Norgay had this problem.

At least he didn’t have driveways to contend with on Mt Everest.


  1. Jasmine

    I don’t remember which elementary school teacher said this, but she often used to say, “We’re only as fast as the slowest guy,” when we were doing in-class writing or something similar. I heard this enough times to commit it into long-term memory, but at the time I couldn’t understand what she meant; therefore, I didn’t try very hard and just let it be. A few years later, it came back to me. I repeated the phrase and promptly slapped myself in the face. One of the biggest epiphanies ever.

  2. River

    Can you have Mr5 practise with an empty backpack on weekends? As he becomes accustomed to it, gradually add weight.
    Uphill is the reason I’m not riding my own bike much.

  3. Lisa@RandomActsOfZen

    Oh, I’m a driveway worrier too! Lovely Mr.5 looking after his mama’s feelings.

    • Anonymous

      Mr 5 is such a sweetie! Best wishes, Pamela

  4. ClaireyHewitt

    Driveways freak me out. I think I need to move to a really old suburb where the cars all have rear driveways (except for my house of course)

    I have found the scooter an easier option to keep up with for the moment too!

  5. Lipgloss Mumma

    How sweet!

    I am so looking forward to moving into our new place which is walking distance to school. Miss 6 loves to scoot and Miss 4 is a bike Ninja and the dogs will love the run.

  6. Maxabella

    It’s my understanding that the Sherpa is generally the fastest team member. I think you need to buy roller skates or get a donkey… or something… x

  7. Marcy

    So funny. I loved how he patted your hand and your ending. This is how my hike up and down Mt. Katahdin went. My poor teenage boys were so much faster, and at each turn I would come upon them patiently waiting for me to catch up. It was a very long day.

  8. therhythmmethod

    Love this. We’re about 400 metres from the back gate of the school. We spend our entire trip zigzagging through the ditch at the side of the dirt road and picking up every stick/rock/piece of rubbish along the way. And then arguing over who is ‘the leader’. I’m hoping we pick up speed eventually … there can only be that many sticks left by Christmas time, surely?

  9. Amanda Kendle

    Oh, beautiful, I love Mr5.
    Have they suggested you hop on a bike too? That’ll be me in a couple of years because the road between here and school doesn’t have enough crossings for me to catch up to my young man.

    • allison tait

      I had considered the bike, but actually find it easier to control them when I’m on foot. Particularly Mr5 who is still a bit wobbly at times and needs a bit of a push over the uphill, grassy bits. Hard to do that from your own bike seat. I’m working up to it!

    • Amanda Kendle

      Phew, uphill and grassy is a degree of difficult my school run won’t have! I think you’ve made a good decision.

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