Elsa had therapy at Marianjoy last week. In many ways, the day was typical.
Check in at the front desk... Hustle the little ones through the halls... Make a quick pit stop for diaper changes... Greet Elsa's therapy team... Wander the corridors while Elsa works...
But this week was a little different. When we rounded the corner to meet Elsa's therapists post-session and debrief on how things went, we saw Elsa coming down the hallway. On a bike.
I stopped in my tracks. In Elsa's 5-and-a-half years, I cannot recall ever seeing her on a bicycle. She looked BIG. She looked STRONG. So capable. So happy.
After a second or two, I managed to put into words that I was pretty sure this was Elsa's very first bike ride. Then I stood frozen a bit longer. "Do you want to take a picture?" one of her therapists suggested.
Oh! Yes! Fumble, fumble for my phone.
First bike rides are pretty ceremonious occasions. A hand-me-down bike with rickety training wheels is pulled from the garage. A parent excitedly places the child on the seat. With great concentration, the child manages to push the pedals an inch, then another inch. It's not perfect or fast or far, but forward motion is achieved.
Another milestone reached. A bittersweet reminder that your baby is growing up.
Seeing Elsa on her bike was completely different. Many emotions cycled through. Happiness, but also a heavy helping of mom guilt.
Why hadn't I tried this with her before? Why is she just now getting this experience? How did I forget to make this universal moment a part of her toddler years? It would have taken some modifications, sure, but we could have done this.
Here's my girl (video below). You'll notice right away that she's on an adaptive bike. Her hands are taped to the handles with stretchy bandaging, and her feet are secured for constant connectivity and input. She's also fastened into the seat with straps in several places.
You can interpret the look that Elsa is giving me in this video, as she's passing by, in several ways. (When your child is non-verbal, it's easy to project on her what you want to believe she is communicating.) In my eyes, Elsa was saying "Hi Mom! Look at me!" Which broke my heart and thrilled me, simultaneously.
The moment may have been three years overdue, and the emotions were complex, but Elsa's big-girl pride was there. And contagious.
If you liked reading about our Marianjoy experiences, you may enjoy a post called Sister Time - which shows a sibling's view of therapy land.