The problem, my 4-year-old explained while putting on her bike helmet, is that going down the driveway is very scary, so scary she decided to walk the bike down to the road.

"Walk?" I said. "You are an official bike rider, now. There's no more need for walking."

We got our youngest her own bike recently. Being the youngest, she rarely gets anything new. Her older sister was jealous.

The bike has a pink and blue metallic finish, training wheels and a name: Mischief.

She scrunched her face as if to say she knew that would be my response. "It's so scary," she said meekly. "And I don't like being afraid."

"You can only beat fear by facing it," I replied and patted her bike seat. I promised to hold on to her.

Watching her learn to ride a bike brings back so many memories. It makes me think of racing the neighborhood kids down the street and abandoning our bikes at whoever's house had the Popsicles. It makes me think of warm summer nights, and my real first taste of freedom.

Having a bike is the first time you can travel farther than the end of the street. In a little kid's mind, you can travel the world. It feels like an important part of growing up.

And I still recall the heavy pavement. Every time, I broke my fall with the same knee and elbow. My knee is still rough in a spot from years to scraps.

"But the more you fall, the less it hurts and the better you get at riding," I told my daughter. "Then you won't fall much."

I like to think I give my kids sound advice, even though it might be terrifying at times. They at least know I have their best interests at heart.

So, when she looked at me for wisdom before heading down the driveway, I offered her the most practical thing I could think of.

"Hang on tight and pedal fast," I said as she started rolling down the hill.

She rolled fast and I encouraged her to pedal, which she did. When we got the end of the driveway, she yelled for me to let go. And off she went down the street, the training wheels rattling.

When we got to the end of the street, we decided to ride to the library. When we got to the library, we decided to ride past the fire station before heading back home.

We were both out of breath when we returned to the end of our driveway.

My daughter jumped off her bike.

"You done riding?" I asked.

"No way," she replied.

She had spotted a few thousand yellow dandelions in our yard and wanted to collect a bunch. She gathered them with two hands and deposited them into the little bag on the front of her bike. Then she zipped the bag closed, wiped her hands off on her pants and got back on her bike.

Without a word, she started riding down the street.

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