We know so little when we’re young.

I don’t remember the family’s name. I don’t even remember the boy’s name. But I remember babysitting, as a young teenager, in the summer. The boy had been practicing riding his bike without training wheels with his dad. And he was excited. So very excited. He asked if I could practice with him. “Sure!” I said. I remember the look of concentration on his face. I remember that he was wearing a helmet. I remember that I held onto the back of his seat and then … I remember letting go. And he rode. Around the cul-de-sac. By himself. Without falling. I remember cheering him on, and I remember his joy.

And then.

His parents came home.

The boy was asleep. I told them, so excited to share that joy with them. The dad’s face fell. And then I realized: That was his thing. That moment belonged not to me and the boy, but to the boy and his dad—the dad who had spent days working with the boy, building up to that bittersweet moment of letting go.

The dad was kind, and proud, but still silently, yet clearly, upset he hadn’t witnessed the moment himself. And I felt terrible.

I now understand why daycare workers and babysitters share in a parents’ excitement about a rollover or a first word or a first step even though they had already witnessed it, and with thought and grace chose not to share, instead giving that moment to the parent.

I’ve never been good about recording firsts. Numbers, dates. I like to write words instead. Turns out this has been a bit problematic when filling out hospital forms. When asked about firsts I tend to put a lot of question marks. On the last form I was given, exasperated, I simply wrote “the first six months were a blur.”

But that doesn’t mean I don’t love them, those monumental firsts.

I’ve been lucky to witness many, and I’ve missed some. I was in Chicago when Owen took his first steps. I was waiting with girlfriends for the L when I heard the ping of my email and saw the video Andy had sent. And I was grateful he witnessed it. It was his turn.

Sophie has long loved her scooter. She’s fast and meticulous with her steering and can brake like a pro. As such, her bike has spent the last two summers on the porch, mostly unused. But lately we’ve been talking about getting her on it again, and taking off the training wheels. Friends lent us a scoot bike, as an aide. And after practicing with the scoot bike for awhile, last weekend, she asked Andy to take off her bike’s training wheels.

I now understand the pride of the dad of the boy I babysat so many years ago. And the disappoint in not being the one, after days of practice, to finally let go. And I was so happy both Andy and I were able to witness Sophie’s fearful-yet-brave wobbling this weekend.

Drivers on our street slowed down and waved. Friends yelled “Go, Sophie! You can do it!” while swinging on tree swings in their front yards. The neighbor across the street said it didn’t seem so long ago when she was doing the same with her boys, who are now in their 20s.

I’m sorry, long-ago dad, for taking that moment from you.

I was young and unknowing, but I get it now. Even if I may not mark it in a baby book or the calendar, I get it.

“The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard.” —Sloan Wilson

Links I Love

• Saturday Andy and I saw Hem at Taft Theatre thanks to free tickets from CityBeat (I entered a contest and won!). Hem just released a new album, Departure and Farewell, and it’s been a long time coming. My sister and I saw Hem in concert years ago (2005, maybe?) at The Southgate House. There were, maybe, 15 people there. And it was freezing! Everyone, including Hem, wore coats, hats and scarves. Despite the cold, our love for them grew that night—in fact, Katy played several of their songs at her wedding. Last night they were blessed with a much bigger audience. While waiting for the music to start, I began to tell Andy my favorite Hem story—he stopped me, and said I had already told him (several times). So because I didn’t get the satisfaction of telling him (again), I’ll share it with you: Dan Messé, Gary Maurer and Steve Curtis placed an ad for vocalists in The Village Voice. They received many, many responses—but no one fit their vision. Months later, Sally Ellyson, prodded by friends, dropped off a cassette tape of lullabies she’d recorded. Messé says he had no intention of listening to it. But then, by accident, he turned it on when he thought he was playing a different demo tape. “Lord, Blow the Moon Out Please,” came floating out of his speakers. “I remember thinking, What the hell is this?! It was like this voice I had heard in my dreams all my life,” Messé said to New York magazine. And thus the band was born. Listen to their newest lullaby, here.

“The Helpers”

• My friend Colleen started a blog, Sisters Pushing Strollers, along with her two sisters. I love it. And relate to it.

• Thanks to Pinterest, I just discovered Baileys. Oh how I wish they shipped to the U.S.

• My friend Stephen, who owns Vertigo Catering, is hosting his first tasting event June 14 to benefit The Dragonfly Foundation. I’ve had the pleasure of eating from his menu numerous times and it’s some of the best food I’ve ever had. So if you’re looking for a fun date night (and a great organization to support) check it out!

Life on Mars … in 2023?

• Speaking of planets, stars and space, I think because James’s middle name is Orion I should own this ring, right? (It’s lovely, but just a tad out of my price range.)

• I’m so intrigued by Elizabeth Winder’s new book Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953. Check out some pictures of Sylvia here.

• I don’t understand people who don’t have regrets. Yes, everything in life is a lesson. And no, one shouldn’t dwell on could haves or should haves. But we’re all human. We all make mistakes. And we all have said things we shouldn’t have said and we all haven’t said things we should have said. I regret those moments! How can one not? Anyhow, this spoke to me. This past Christmas I put a regret down on paper—and sent it to someone I knew in high school. He never responded, and I still regret my actions, but I did find the act helpful in letting go.

• Andy’s parents bought Sophie Goldie Blox for her birthday, and we’ve gifted it to others as well. Sophie and I finally played with it today, and she loved it. Watch this. You want to buy one, no?

“The bed is too small for my tired head
Bring me a hill soft with trees
Tuck a cloud up under my chin
Lord, blow the moon out please.” —traditional lullaby