You may have seen the picture of Nora tuning up her tricycle yesterday. She's so tall that her knees hit the handle bars, so I took her to Walmart today, and we picked out a new bike fit with training wheels. I had one of my favorite parenting moments in history when we put the bike on the floor and Nora climbed on and began riding around the aisles of Walmart. Associates paused, shoppers smiled that "little girl's first bike" grin, and I was yelling a bit louder than one usually does in a store, "Yes! That's it, Nora! You are riding a bike! You are riding a REAL bike!"
The first time Nora ever said she loved me was in Walmart in the frozen food aisle with her leaning over the bar where she was sitting in that little seat they make for your kids. I stopped everything and just held her there crying "tears of joy" as she would call them.
We immediately loaded the bike into the back of the minivan (yes, I need a truck) and hit Plum Creek trail with its changing trees, Japanese beetle infestation, corn fields rustling like ladies' gowns in a Jane Austen novel, and we "got our motors running."
Yes, yes that is a unicorn helmet. I know. Awesome. There's even a little plastic Barbie bike attached to the handlebar, so Barbie can ride with her. My first bike was called "Bluebird," and one of the first thing I did was ride right over the cattle guard, down the dirt hill and straight into a patch of cactus. Unfortunately, I didn't have a unicorn helmet. I'm not even sure if I was wearing clothes. We lived in the country, you know.
The day I had my training wheels taken off, Dad took me out to the main road of Apple Tree Trailer Park, and he gave me the big push from the back of the seat, and I looked behind and he wasn't there. I thought he was the one holding me up the whole time. Nope. It was shear ignorance that allowed me to ride my bike. I remember one of the kids who had assembled to watch me risk life and limb for the glory of two-wheeled freedom walked up to my dad and asked, "Are you Jesus?" And Dad said, "No. Not even close." Dad had long hair back then. It was at that moment I realized that my dad was a man trying hard to be a good man.
Nora is also trying hard to be a good human. I was nearly rolling in "tears of joy" on the side of the trail when an older gentleman passed by, rang the little bell on his bike, and Nora called out after him, "Hello there! I'm just in training right now!"
Two other bikers passed us and Nora called out, "Lovely day for a bike ride, isn't it?" The joy she felt becoming part of this new biking community was so tangible. Man, I love her.