One of the best parts of being a parent is all the “firsts” you get to experience with your children as they grow up.

First tooth, first steps, first words….

Then it’s the first hair cut, first day of preschool, first ballet class…

Growing up is a journey of “firsts” and also a chance to fondly remember your own “firsts” along the way.

For Ava, today was one of those special days. Another first.

She received her first bike.

I remember my first bike. It was the kind with the 70’s-style banana seat. I practiced for hours out in front of our house. Riding back and forth until I got my balance just right. Then it was riding with a friend; a big step towards independence. Playing cards clipped with clothes pins to our wheels. Decorating our bikes for neighborhood Fourth of July parades. Freedom to explore the world from the unique view only riding on two wheels can provide. I wanted this same joy for my daughters.

So, off to the local bike shop we go.

Dozens of bikes lined the walls. Bikes for everyone from the everyday cruisers all the way up to the ultra light competitive bikes.

But that’s not what we were there for as we headed to the back of the shop. Back to the place where they house the tiny bikes for tiny people. A handful of colorfully decorated, short in stature, two-wheelers.

Ava sees her bike immediately. A Trek Mystic.

No training wheels. Twenty inches tall. Shiny chrome and sparkly reflectors. Black nubby tires. Soft leather seat adorned with yellow and white geometric designs. The prettiest blue reminiscent of  tropical seas. Delicate ribbons attached to the seat and handle bars; waving ever so slightly in the air conditioned breeze.

It’s perfect.

I expected her to pick the pink version, but she didn’t. She chose the blue. An unexpected choice.

She takes the bike out for a test drive the parking lot. Showing promise from the beginning. With her dad’s help, she balances and gets a few peddles in on her own.

After that, there’s not much discussion.

We take it.

Paid for and packed into the back of the car, we drive down to the local church parking lot. It is roomy and flat. Perfect for learning.

While unpacking the bike, reality sets in.

Ava is scared. The bike seems too big now, it’s not the tiny balance bike she has been using.

However, we jump in and practice begins. She is reluctant. Excuses start flowing, but we make her stick with it. Encouraging her along the way.

Try again. You can do it. Be brave. Try again.

Slowly her confidence builds. Longer stretches of cycling on her own. Pushing pedals, balancing, and steering.

Half hour later, she is riding on her own. Her dad running behind her; ensuring she doesn’t have a major spill.

Ava, you had a first today.

You got your first bike.

You learned to ride.

Well done, Ava.

I look forward to the many more “firsts” with you.

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