Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Skills and Scooters

"Try to step on the break with the middle part of your foot Mom," Cole instructed as we flew down our street on scooters.
"IT IIIIIISN'T WORRRRRRKING!" I calmly answered gaining speed.  The trip up the street had been a lot of work, but held much less excitement than the return trip.

This harrowing adventure began as a result of a simple request of our friends and neighbors who live at the steep end of our street.  Mr. & Mrs. B had asked Cole if he would be willing to care for their pets and plants while they were away on vacation.  "It's really nice of them to ask me to do that," said he.  A few days later Cole and his dad walked up to get instructions in the care and keeping of the two cats and the plants.

The B's left for vacation, Cole's duties AND the second round of baseball tournaments began.  Every evening right before or immediately following practice or a ballgame, Cole would head up the street to feed the cats, empty the litter box, and water the plants accompanied by his father or me.

Early in the week, Cole and I decided that it would be a faster trip if we rode his and Megan's scooters to the B's home.  As I pushed with one foot up, up, up the hill, I gained a new respect for the children's scootering abilities.  This was much more difficult than they made it look as I watched from my kitchen window.  I was getting quite a one-legged workout while Cole was gaining some experience with responsibility.
Upon arrival at our hill top destination, my son parked his scooter and turned toward me, hand extended to park mine.  Nice, I thought, chivalry, I'll take it.  Then it occurred to me that perhaps I looked like I'd had a strenuous workout and he was feeling sorry for me.  Oh well, I re-thought, pity, I'll take that too!

He grabbed the mail from the box and took the trash can back to its place.  We arrived next at the only job I was necessary for, unlocking the door.  Cole had been left in charge of the house key which did evade him a time or two during the week, once even getting a nice cleaning in the washer before being discovered.  The lock gave Cole a bit of trouble, so even toward the end of the week as Cole gained confidence in his "job skills",  an adult had to accompany him to let him in the door.

This was an unexpected  gift.

Each day that I joined Cole to make the trek up the street, I learned a bit about him that I don't think I would have noticed in any other circumstance.  Each day, he rolled "my" scooter to me to saddle up and parked my scooter when we reached the top of the street.  Each day, he entered the B's home and checked on the two cats who would by week's end appear to greet him as long as I didn't cross the threshold.  With every visit, I watched Cole review the check list to ensure that he hadn't left out anything for which he was responsible. He would note the daily consumption of cat food add the prescribed amount, and give them fresh water and a few kind words. Every other day he checked the plants and saw to the litter box.  And each day as we arrived home, he would park both two-wheeled vehicles and place the key in its temporary home in his room, most of the time, unless he left it in the pocket of his baseball pants.

"You know I really liked doing this job," he told me as we left the B's house the on the last evening of his duties, "I kinda like those cats too.  They were fun."

"Not near as much fun as you my boy," I thought as I followed him to the scooters. What a privilege to watch my little Man learn a new "skill" and handle well, the responsibility of caring for two living beings, all the while looking after his mother who was masquerading as a fit young scooter chick.
Realizing that our scooter riding adventures, as well were coming to a close, I decided to "ride like the wind" on the way home, down the hill and around the bend.  I'm not sure why this night, deep into my scooter riding career, the brake would evade me so successfully.  I could manage to engage it partially, but not enough to keep me from picking up way too much speed.  "Cooooooolllllle, I can't work the braaaaaaaaake!!!!!!" I said evenly and in a very controlled voice screamed like a banchee.

"Try to step on the break with the middle part of your foot Mom," Cole instructed as we flew down our street on scooters.  
"IT IIIIIISN'T WORRRRRRKING!" I calmly answered squalled gaining speed.  He passed me on his scooter and demonstrated proper braking action.  It turns out that I had been mostly missing the break and stepping on a different, non-braking piece of scooter instead. 
(The Brake and the Brake Imposter- the horizontal bar which, 
says my son, is a foot rest. Nice to know.)

"Ohhhhh!" I said finding the brake at last.  It was with great relief, to both of us I think, that we arrived home safely.  

Happily, the following day, the B's arrived home safely too!

"You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes."

-- Author Unknown

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