Why My Daughter’s New Bike Brought Me to Tears
As much as I love my daughter, I can’t afford to buy her some of the simplest pleasures that every child should enjoy — for instance a bike.
When all the other little girls on our street were getting bikes with training wheels, my little girl was making do with an old-fashion pink scooter. You see, going to Wal-Mart and picking up an 80, 90 or even a hundred dollar bike would not work for my daughter. My little girl lives with autism — even if I purchased her a bike, her brain wouldn’t allow her to push the pedals.
So at 4 years old, she was struggling to keep up with the giggling sweet girls on the block. Even as she pushed her scooter to the max, the other girls were faster with their peddles. As the year progressed, the training wheels came off one at a time. My child was left out, not able to keep up as the girls and boys rode to the end of the block and turned around. I watched my child make it half way down the block and push her scooter to the ground, throw a tantrum and cry because she wanted a bike too. And even though she’d tried repeatedly on her friend Riley’s Barbie bike, she couldn’t make her legs push the pedals. She was so frustrated, and these little missed opportunities were breaking both of our hearts.
Then, an opportunity came out of nowhere — our new next-door neighbor was a physical therapist at a center that didn’t take our insurance. She watched as Gabby threw down her scooter and began a tantrum on her front lawn. She introduced herself to us in the midst of my child screaming, “It’s not fair… I want a bike of my own!” She gave me a small card and told us to come by tomorrow and get measured for a trike. She worked with an organization that gave away trikes to children with special needs. I’d heard of these types of trikes — they weren’t in our budget nor did insurance pay for them. They were out of our reach.
I did call the next day, expecting my neighbor to have forgotten our conversation. She picked up the phone and told us to come on over and get measured. We went, and 30 minutes later my child was jumping up and down at the opportunity of a shiny new bike.
Three months had passed when we finally got the phone call that she was receiving a trike. A local appliance company in our community had sponsored it. We showed up at the beautiful country club in our area for a lunch banquet where she would be awarded her trike and meet her sponsors.
We barely made it to our table when our child started to melt down from the noise of the room and the amount of people staring at her. She had one of her biggest tantrums I’ve even witnessed in public. I scooped her up and told the presenter we were not going to be able to attend. I gave a rushed, “Thank you so much!” to our sponsors and carried my child back to the safety of our SUV. My husband came back out 30 minutes later and said the trike was loaded in his truck.
We followed my husband home, and every time Gabby got a glimpse of her new trike she would say, “I did it, I got my new bike… I did it.” She was thrilled that she made it through the door and got her trike. I tried not to focus on the scene we’d made at the country club and all the people who had stared at us for the fact that we were not even able to sit at a table in a crowded room for just five minutes. The truth was, we did have a $2000 trike in my husband’s truck right in front of us, and we were taking it home. My girl was finally going to have a bike.
An hour later, all the kids in the neighborhood were gathered in our driveway to watch as my husband tinkered with the new trike, adjusting it so Gabby could ride. This is the moment our world changed just a little bit.
All the kids from the neighborhood and Gabby’s best friend, Riley, were playing in the driveway. They were going to leave and ride their bikes to the end of the street. This is usually where I’d watch Gabby look longingly as all the other girls ride away.
Not today. My girl put on her helmet and told me to get her going. We rode with all the rest of the girls to the end of the block and turned around. Although we were not as fast as them, they kept paced with Gabby, and I got to watch her laugh and giggle with all the other girls.
Thank God for oversized sunglasses because I had tears steadily flowing down my eyes as we walked. I know she will never be just like everybody else — her challenges will always make her a bit special. But just to be doing the same thing at the same moment as everyone else was perfect. For the first time in a long time I had tears of joy flowing down my eyes and not tears of sadness. I was just so happy; this trike was not only a wonderful gift, but it was a blessing for my girl.
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