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Watching the Mile Markers Whiz By

It seems the girls are moving ever-faster towards adulthood; whereas they used to give me some breathing room between developmental or physical milestones, now we seem to be knocking one down before the last one’s even in our rearview mirror.

Cora, for one thing, with her two front teeth last week. I started the week with a sweet baby girl, a smile full of milky baby teeth, and ended the week staring at a little girl with a crooked, gap-toothed grin. Losing two teeth in a row has given Cora’s face a completely different look, and even as I enjoy the sweetness of her soft lisp now, I know it’s simply a sign that she’s growing up. Friday afternoon I kept staring bemusedly at her sweet smile, thinking of how much she’d accomplished in one week.

But Cora decided she wasn’t done – and finished off the week by learning, once and for all, how to ride without training wheels.

Saturday morning was our first day of real “fall” weather this year, and the cool crispness in the air simply begged to be enjoyed, so I casually got Cora’s bike out of the garage and brought it to our cul-de-sac without even asking her. Cora had tried riding without training wheels in the spring, and though she proved she could, Cora found the experience unnerving and chose not to try it any more: she said it made her scared and she didn’t like feeling that way.

So Cora spent the spring becoming the world’s fastest scooter girl, and she can go faster on the scooter than some kids can on a bike. But I watch her as we go back and forth to school every day this fall, Cora behind Maddie simply because she can’t keep up with Maddie on her big bike, and I know Cora yearns to conquer the bike.

I told Cora we’d just try it for a few minutes and she reluctantly agreed. Maddie came out as well for moral support and was cheering loudly every time Cora made a successful “run”. Cora began to realize she really could balance, but was still worried about steering, so I held on to the bike as we walked endless circles around the cul-de-sac, getting used to how it felt when she went on a curve and the bike leaned a bit. After half an hour or so, Cora was feeling better about the thing but done.

After lunch Cora asked to go to our neighborhood park two blocks away with Daddy, and I told her she could but I’d like her to ride her bike. She grumbled but agreed. Sounds harsh, I know, but our park has a smooth blacktop area and I knew that if she got on that blacktop she’d get the steering down no problem.

About an hour later Maddie and I went to join Cora and Daddy, and the first thing I saw when I came up the hill was Cora high on the blacktop, riding figure eights like a madwoman.

Yep, Cora conquered the bike BUT GOOD. You could see the smile on her face – one part triumph, one part pride, pure joy. And since then she’s stated she’s riding her bike to SCHOOL and to a PICNIC and to the GROCERY STORE and . . . she’s riding, and she’s not looking back.

It’s my own fault, I know: I am the one who got the bike out and insisted she try it again. I could have kept her little, next to me, a little bit longer. But as much as it saddens me to see my girl fly away from me and not look back, I also know it’s my job to help her do so.

I find the good in all of this. I revel in her squeals of delight as she speeds by on her bike. I melt at her earnest withpineth, so charming even though she’s mildly embarrassed by it and will brook no reminders of it, no gentle teasing, whatsoever. I love to see her legs pump furiously, her face yearn to strap on her helmet and go.

I know this is right, watching my girl walk down the road of her her life. It’s my job to walk alongside her, gradually dropping further and further behind as her strides become more confident. So I try, as much as I can, to enjoy the journey while I still get to walk next to her.

But oh, the mile markers do go by so fast.


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