First things first


First tooth, first steps, first day of school, first love. We are a world of firsts— landmarks on our life's journey. I sometimes wonder why I can't remember all of the key firsts and memories of my childhood, but I am most pleased at the firsts that have lasted, etched in my mind and as clear as ever. These are not very momentous occasions— but rite of passages that symbolize times that were most important and most thrilling for me.

With the advent of Velcro there's not a lot of need for tying one's shoes but at some point it's a growing up requirement for us all. I never heard of the "bunny ears" technique until my own children had to learn this skill— I am more of a "one loop/bring other lace around" kind of woman. I remember practicing not on my feet, but holding the sneaker in my lap and working the laces over and over until I got the method right. I don't remember anyone telling me to do this, maybe I just didn't want to ask for help anymore.

Do you remember the "Dead Man's Float?” Caught up in political correctness, the float was renamed in my kids' era as the "Superman Float." In either case, it was a way to lie on your stomach in the shallow end of the swimming pool and try to push off the pool floor to stretch out fully. With this technique I could feel what it was like to float and move in the water and I have my brother to thank for showing me this maneuver. I also have him to thank for pulling me out of the water when I missed my footing and started to drown and my Mom for sitting me out on a bench then putting me right back in the pool a few minutes later.

Riding a two-wheeler: that most vivid sense of independence with a hand-me-down red bike of my brother's. Other people normally assist by walking/holding the bike seat so one can balance, but I only remember working it out myself, trying to get a good start with the pedals over and over and over. Suddenly there it was, I glided a few feet in the back parking lot near our apartment house's garages. It was freedom pure and simple.

All through life people give you the tools to make firsts happen. And sometimes it's not the end activity itself, but the self-determination that gets you there. In short, if you want it bad enough, the relentless pursuit is just as memorable.