Sparkle Pony came to me Sunday with a plan called "I want to bake chocolate chip cookies and we have no chocolate chips and so I will ride my bicycle to Safeway and buy some." Her wish was to execute this plan in the company of her staunch companion, the Best Friend. The Safeway is less than a mile away. I reviewed all the intervening intersections. I reviewed my own life at age 12 and acknowledged that it had been rife with unaccompanied bicycle rides, in fact, unlike Sparkle Pony I have never seen my parents on bicycles. I told Sparkle Pony and Best Friend that I'd see them when they got back and that was her first solo ride.
Monday Sparkle Pony came to me with a plan called "I will ride all over the neighborhood and up to the park in the company of Best Friend." I paused a little longer but in the end agreed to this as well. I peeked out a window and watched Sparkle Pony and Best Friend bike away up the street, helmets on, long braids floating along behind them like cheerful mascots.
Is it a little (a lot even) scary? Yes. It is. I'm a bicyclist and I know what it can be like out there. I've done a lot of bicycling with both kids though and Sparkle Pony is respectful and law abiding. There are bike lanes. Her friend is trust-worthy. The Contraption Captain and I both rode everywhere as kids, every road and every neighborhood. Nothing sets you free quite the way a bicycle can set you free. The Pony sees me bicycle every day and knows that it is something I love. She is ready to love it also and I am ready to open my hands a little so that she can start to find her own wheels.