We gave her the bike last, as the sun was beginning to set on a perfect summer day. The breeze caught the streamers in the ends of the handlebars and rustled them beautifully.
She smiled and ran down the steps. She examined the tires and the seat. She admired Ariel, swimming with her undersea friends across the frame.
“This says ‘Princess of the Sea,’” my wife said, pointing to chain guard.
My little girl smiled some more and climbed on. I explained how to brake, gave her a push to get her going, and she was off. Pretty soon she’d put half a block between me and her, and then almost a full block. A little more distance with each turn of the pedals.
I strolled along with my hands in pockets. I was smiling, too. I could do this forever, I thought. Then I realized: In a way, I will.
So happy birthday, kiddo. Keep pedaling out into your world. Sing your songs and dance your dances. Be a princess, or a pony, or a kitten, or a bead maker, or whatever you want.
Your Mom and I will be back here when you need us.
Just don’t cross the street alone. You’re still only four.