even flanked by training wheels she's wobbly, but today she wants to do this. so i wiggle tight the straps of her borrowed, too-big helmet, and we practice pushing back on the pedals to brake.
can i go already? she says. and i nod and remind her to stop at the end of the driveway.
gravity and pluck and a bit of pedaling carry her to the edge of the street. she turns a narrow half-circle, then hits a sunken part of the drive that makes her back tire spin out from beneath her training wheels.
she calls me again, and i nudge her bike out and then show her how to hop off and push so she can unstick herself in case i'm not there, but she has already dismissed this advice. i'm always there.
we circle around and she gives me a smile, newly confident. i'm going again, she says.
elle starts off across the pavement, and i watch her spin away, outgrowing me.
and in all the unsolicited advice i've been watered with over the years, i don't recall anyone mentioning this, that parenting would be riddled with emotional dichotomies: quiet pride mingled with loss, how my insides are bereft and yet rejoicing.
it's my job to make myself expendable, peripheral. to teach them to unstick themselves without me. and somehow, stripped bare, dusted with grace, we survive even this.