In theory, I have a perfect morning drop-off setup for my kids. My four-year-old daughter Ayelet’s junior kindergarden opens at 8:10, and my two-year-old son Rafael’s preschool is just two blocks away and opens at 8:30. I have just the right amount of time to get my daughter settled in at school and then walk my son the 5-10 minutes to his school. From there, I should be able to drop him off and then get to work a little past 9:00.
That’s the theory. Have you ever tried to walk somewhere with a two year old when you really had to get there?
When a kid reaches two, they have all of the potential to really walk places. They can move reasonably quickly, and their stamina has built up to the point that they can go at least a couple of blocks. And if they want to go where you are going, it all works.
Most of the time, they seem to want to go somewhere else.
I quickly discovered that Rafael’s favorite game was “stop”. He would spread his legs, announce “stop”, and then look at me with a devilish grin, refusing to go forward. I would then try to cajole him to get moving, which played right into his hands. He wanted me to react, and I was doing exactly that. As soon as I realized this was his goal, I tried starting walking off without him. At first he got upset and came running after me, but he soon figured out what was up. Instead, he just stood there and waited, even if I walked around a corner.
When he wasn’t playing the stop game, he became obsessed with picking up leaves and other debris we would find on the street. In the Fall, there are a lot of leaves to pick up.
Most of the time, I found myself just picking him up and carrying him the two blocks. It got us where we were going, but it was a little more weight lifting than I quite had in mind, and it wasn’t sustainable.
And then, I hit on the idea of the scooter.
Earlier in the summer, my parents had gotten Rafael a scooter. My daughter is naturally athletic and had long ago mastered a two-wheel razor scooter we received as a hand-me-down, and Rafael would watch her on it longingly. So, my parents got him a three-wheel scooter of his own.
Unfortunately, he had a hard time figuring it out. The steering mechanism required tilting your body to the right or left, but he didn’t undertand this. He would always lean a little too far to the right and end up running off the sidewalk.
However, in late September, it suddenly clicked for him one day. In the morning he was bumping into buildings, and by the afternoon he was as graceful as a speed skater, kicking one leg in the air and shifting his body to zip around a tight corner.
Once I realized how good he was, and how much he enjoyed it, I decided to try bringing his scooter on the trip to school.
The transformation was instantaneous. He could hardly wait to climb aboard and start riding. My problem was no longer carrying him or trying to herd him along. Now, it’s a problem of trying to keep up. He goes very fast.
I find myself doing a bit of jogging to keep pace, which feels like just the right amount of exercise to me. He’s also learning some important lessons, like stopping at the one (quiet) intersection between the two schools all on his own.
My daughter, not wanting to be left out, insists on taking her scooter to school as well, so both kids are getting a nice dose of morning activity.
If you have the patience, you can see in the video below just how capable and graceful they are on their scooters.
The only downside is that winter is coming, and when the snow and ice comes, the scooter will have to stay home. I’m hoping that Rafael will have gotten so used to zipping along to school that he will forget all about dawdling on the way.