How We Accidentally Helped Our Toddler Reach a Milestone

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We purchased a red tricycle for my toddler this past weekend. I was especially excited about the first purchase because my older daughter with special needs missed that milestone. She missed a number of milestones because of her multi-disability diagnosis. At birth she was diagnosed with deafness and global developmental delay.  She was unable to sit up, crawl, or walk for a long time. At the age of five she was diagnosed with autism. Thankfully, she reached those milestones in her own time. Unlike our toddler, at 2.5 years old our oldest daughter was barely standing, let alone able to ride a tricycle.

The timing of purchasing the new tricycle was actually an accident. As we went for our daily stroll to the mailbox, located 20 feet from our home, we noticed a used vintage tricycle. By vintage I mean 10 years old and rusting. Besides the obvious wear and tear, and a front tire that needed air, it was in perfectly new condition. Our toddler alerted us to her need for a tricycle over a month ago, and the sudden discovery of the used tricycle outside our door seemed like a perfect reminder. “Mommy, a bike.” she said. In true toddler fashion, she inserted the word my to take full ownership of the new item.

“My bike,” she said confidently. She was convinced that it was hers. It was challenging to say no, and I naïvely agreed with her. As a we walked up the sidewalk to our door, I knew that my husband may have a different answer. She was so excited about her knew find, eager to ride it and show it off to dad.

Before I could explain our new find, my husband made an announcement. The look on his face spoke before he did.  “I am going to purchase her a bike of her own.”  “Let’s go to the store and get you a new bike,” he said. There you have it.

Within a matter of minutes, after a simple outing to the mailbox, our toddler had gained a vintage item, lost it, and earned a shopping trip to get a new bike. As they left proudly to purchase her new bike, I was so excited for her. It was the same level of excitement I had before receiving my first bike as a kid. I never had this experience for my older daughter, and I was thrilled to see her return with a red tricycle and a helmet. She proudly stood still so I could put on her helmet before she went out on a test ride. I never knew that a new tricycle would be such a sentimental experience.

Just like when my toddler walked at one and said mommy, I was overwhelmed by a mixture of joy and sadness. I experienced joy for the beauty of those moments and sadness that after 16 years I never had those milestones with my older daughter. My contrasting emotions are quickly transformed into gratitude as I looked over at my special needs daughter scrolling through her iPad, sitting calmly and patiently. Although she never rode a tricycle, her milestones were evident in different ways. 

Eraina Davis-Ferguson is a creative nonfiction writer currently penning a memoir about raising a daughter with autism and deafness. Her story was featured in “The New Haven Register” She holds an M.Ed in Education and an MAR in Religion from Yale University. Learn more about her here: