Well, ride may be putting it strongly.
He doesn’t quite ride it. He sort of waddles astride it – one foot on each side, wiggling slowly forward, never putting one foot on the board and pushing with the other as it’s designed.
In the midst of his waddling, he stops every few feet – to pick a dandelion, to study a pile of goose poop, to remind me not to touch the cable box.
“This is my street, Mommy,” he tells me, gesturing magnanimously, taking it all in. “This is my neighborhood.”
Then, spotting the Great Dane that lives on the corner, he calls ahead to me, “Don’t worry, Mommy. He’s behind an invisible fence. Invisible means you can’t see it, but it’s still there, right, Mommy?”
“That’s right, baby,” I reply, slowing down to let him catch up once again.
The half mile walk down our street, up another one, and back again takes us 30 minutes, maybe more. I cover the same distance on my morning run in a handful of minutes, in my car – on the way to preschool or the grocery store – in one. And it’s often all I can do to keep my feet from tap dancing down the path, moving at my normally fast pace instead of his lackadaisical one and letting a gap open up between us.
I’ve always been a fast walker. My high school had several classroom buildings and I never had trouble making it from one far-flung one to another in the ten minute passing period. When I lived in New York, I never waited to transfer from the express to the local train that would take me across the street from the school where I taught; I knew that nine times out of ten I could walk the six blocks more quickly than the train would get me there.
So it’s not so easy for me to slow my legs down to keep time with my scooter-waddling three year old. To find the same enchantment that he does in the family of mushrooms that sprouted in the alley of grass between our neighbor’s sidewalk and the street after the last rain storm. To revel in naming everything he sees – animal, vegetable, mineral.
But, like so much medicine, I know it’s good for me to change my stride to match his. To listen to his questions with my ears and my heart. To follow his lead. To stop and smell the flowers.
To remember that these are the good old days.
Do you prefer to move slowly or quickly? At this stage, do you have to slow down to keep up with your kids or speed up?