August 28th, 2007  |  Published in etc  |  3 Comments


We got Ben a Skuut over the weekend.

Ride #1, Sunday afternoon: Wobbly, frightened, demanded his old tricycle back.

Ride #2, an hour later: Still a bit wobbly, pleased. Got a running start and glided with his feet off the pavement for six or seven feet, recovered gracefully.

Ride #3, today after school: Smooth. Another couple of experiments in gliding. Dumped it once by drifting too far to the edge of a sidewalk with a shallow trench dug into the adjacent yard by landscapers. Recovered with aplomb.

Parental verdict after 36 hours: Pleased. The tricycle sucked because it was hard for him to pedal and he ended up doing what he does with the Skuut anyhow, only less ergonomically.

Caveats: Range is an issue. Hanging back a few feet and watching him work the Skuut reveals a continuous struggle to stay upright, and that takes a toll on him. We stopped under a few trees this afternoon so he could loll around with his head on my lap and rest up before going another block or two.

At the ten block mark he was done, torn between his desire to press on to Wilshire Park and his urge to just go home and flop around. I bought him a Rice Krispy Treat at the Food King and carried him back on my shoulders. The Skuut weighs less than he did as a newborn, which is good because he weighs … more than he did as a newborn.

Post-Ride Indolent Three-Year-Old Behavior: Zoned out in front of my School House Rock DVD. “Interjections” and “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here” are his two big favorites right now. He has little patience for America Rock, demanding a quick return to the grammar installments before he even gets through “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”


  1. pk says:

    August 29th, 2007 at 9:25 am (#)

    I’ve never heard of these. There are no pegs to rest your feet on or anything, he just glides and picks his feet up? Maybe we’ll try this for Tommy. We’ve got garage-sale bikes in the garage that are just junk.

    I too have found that the pedals on trikes and bikes just get in the way, because they can’t conceptualize what to do with them. I guess it’s a matter of whether you think they can master pedaling or balancing first, and given that they’ve already mastered walking, I’m inclined to think balancing might come easier. Eureka!

    Also, I have the School House Rock DVD(s), too. Haven’t broken them out because I thought it’d be over Max’s head, but maybe I should try it.

  2. mph says:

    August 29th, 2007 at 10:28 am (#)

    Yeah … they just climb on and start walking. At first Ben sort of rested his weight on the handlebars and stood over the saddle. The next ride he took, he was comfortable sitting and pushing himself along with a waddling walk. Since then, he does a sort of loping stride that involves both his feet being clear of the ground for a second mid-stride. I also noticed that when he overbalances on one side or the other, he tends to keep the foot on that side down as his propulsion foot until he can tilt himself back up, instead of wildly overbalancing.

    Last night he was much better than the day before, too. So in four rides in as many days, he’s gone from staggering along to mastering the most basic operation. I can tell he’s gotten more confident because my own pace has quickened when I walk along with him, and he’s comfortable chasing or being chased for a half block at a time.

    He had the tricycle for months, and while he understood how to pedal, it didn’t give much return for the energy spent, so he’d resort to scooting along on it then demanding a push, then barking his ankles or shins every few feet. It wasn’t the nicest tricycle in the world, but when Justin and Dunetchka recommended the Lil’ Giant as an alternative, I didn’t see the point in paying out for him to stay stuck at tricycle. We’d like to have him confident enough to put him on an AlleyCat next year, so the Skuut made pretty good sense.

    Re: Schoolhouse Rock: It’s all about cartoons and catchy tunes with Ben. But Goshen High School required memorization of the Preamble to the Constitution to pass senior civics class, and Schoolhouse Rock allowed me to completely avoid memorizing it anew. So if the kid gets his multiplication tables pounded into his skull early and without his knowing collaboration, he’ll be doing one better than me. Multiplication made me cry.

    I’m not so eager to have him absorbing the implicit valorization of Manifest Destiny offered in “Elbow Room,” but I haven’t rewatched it lately and it may offer some visual counterpoint that at least hints at the bits about genocide and bad faith. I mainly just remember the chorus and my eventual realization that Americans complaining about a lack of living space is so absurd that the whole production may be an attempt to mock the entire idea. But then I also used to think Rush Limbaugh was a top-secret liberal skunkworks project, too.

  3. gl. says:

    August 30th, 2007 at 1:24 am (#)

    how awesome to get him a new mode of transport in his new neighborhood. how’s he liking the new place?

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