For that first year or so, we mark every milestone. First smile, first word, first step. And we compare our baby to the timetable and every other baby we know. After about the 18 months, most children have met the checkpoints, we are free to worry about other things a little less scary than, “is my baby normal?” When they are young, we are content with normal.
My daughter spent five weeks in the NICU because she was born early and underweight. Though she grew slowly, she was in step with her peers, more or less. She talked a little early and walked a little late. Now she is ten, and, except for being petite, she is like most other kids her age.
But, until today, she couldn’t ride a bike. Last summer I took it to the playground where the ground is flat, and she was too scared to ride with the training wheels on. She pedaled slowly and flinched at every bump. I tried to be patient, but she could see the frustration on my face.
Today, she rode it without training wheels. Most kids learn as a parent runs behind them, awkwardly gripping the back of the seat only to release when the wobbling stops. Not Lily. She did it herself. Yesterday, she could pedal twice without stopping. Today, while she was practicing, three of her friends cycled by. She asked, “Mama, can I ride around the block?” The four of them disappeared around the corner, and when they came around the other side, she was just another kid on a bike.
She is faster at some things and slower at others She is perfect and complete. She can do things on her own terms and in her own time. I hope she can see that in my eyes.