Every year my wife, my teacher, and I try to visit New York City. We love it for many reasons; of course the main and obvious reason is to visit family. My dad and step mom live there. We also love the hustle and bustle of the city and its activities like sledding and ice skating in Central Park during the winter, the zoo and scootering in Central Park during the summer, Swing-A-Ring Day (Google it for more info), and the shows. I could go on and on...and just for the record, so could my three year old teacher! He loves the plane ride (luckily the ole, "are we there yet?" question did not kick in), the city's "light show" as he calls it and playing in the kiddy park. As for me, I love the fact that everywhere we want to go in New York is usually within walking distance, especially since where we live, in Birmingham, to get anywhere you need to get into a vehicle.
Scooter...Scooter...Scooter...Scooter. That's all we heard come out of my teacher's mouth prior to arriving in New York.
On this visit, my step mom suggested that we bring his scooter with us. It was an early spring trip and there was snow on the ground, but the sidewalks were mostly bare. My teacher loves to ride his scooter throughout the city. This makes it easier to get around for all of us...until the inevitable... "Dad, my legs are tired, can you please pick me up?" Most of the time, this is not an issue because I pick him up and my wife would carry his scooter. This becomes a problem if he and I are the only two that decided to "run around"...then I'm stuck carrying both my teacher and the scooter, or I end up pushing him while he stands on the scooter. Nevertheless, it's always an adventure!
The day after we arrived, my teacher rounded up the troops. He expressed that he wanted to go on a scooter ride in Central Park. Grand-Pa and Grand-Ma have many scooters for all of the kids and grandkids to enjoy for just such an occasion. And oh, did I mention, they don't watch from afar, they participate in the scooter activities themselves. He asked Grand-Ma and Grand-Pa to get ready. Then he found my wife and me in the other room and asked that we also get ready for the scooter ride.
Since it was really cold, the five of us bundled up, and headed out with our scooters to explore the "byways" of Central Park. For me...well, I'm not sure if I enjoyed the actual activity of scootering that day, since it was so cold or the expressions and comments from the New Yorkers as we passed. The comments ranged from, as they pointed to my teacher, "look how cute he is" and "I can't believe people actually scooter like that in the winter" to "don't you think those two are a little too old for kids activities."
We were somewhere in the middle of Central Park, when my teacher decided it was time to rest. We all stopped, which was fine with me since my legs were hurting. "Smoke" blew out of mouths with each breath and my teacher commented on how "amazing" that was. After a few minutes, I was ready to continue since I was so cold just standing there. My teacher on the other hand, well...um...let's just say that lesson plans don't have weather limitations.
Little did I realize, that as I stood there shivering, my teacher had begun his lesson. Of all times, why didn't he choose to teach me my lesson inside, where it was warm?
"Dad, I want to go play in the snow." He expressed.
"But we are all scootering now." I replied.
"So..." He noted.
"You are the one who gathered everyone up for this scooter ride." I reminded him.
"Look at the snow everywhere." He pointed out.
About this time, Grand-Pa and Grand-Ma decided that they were going to get out of the cold and said their good-byes. When they headed back to their apartment, I watched as they took off. I was a little jealous, since I too wanted to be inside at this point.
"Come on...let's get moving." I suggested.
"Aren't you cold?" I asked.
"No, why would I be?" He asked.
"Umm, it's like freezing out here!" I stated.
"Look at all of this snow, Dad."
"I see it." I acknowledged.
"Birmingham doesn't have this stuff." He claimed.
He did have a point.
My wife and I decided to let him play in the snow. He raced into the middle of the field and jumped in like it was a swimming pool. I helped him build a snowman at his request. We threw snowballs at each other...they weren't really balls, more like chunks, and we chased each other around. After who knows how long, my wife mentioned that we needed to head back. Luckily my teacher concurred. Unfortunately, he expressed that he was too cold and tired to ride the scooter "all the way back to the house" as he put it. I'm sure you know what happened next...
My wife carried his scooter over her shoulder as she rode her scooter, while I had my teacher stand on my scooter as I pushed him...all the way back to the apartment. Luckily I ran, and this certainly helped warm me up.
During the trek through Central Park back to the apartment, as he stood on the platform of my scooter, he made a comment that would break my stride and force me to stop altogether because I was laughing so hard.
"Dad, you know, I am allowed to change my mind...duhh...H-E-L-L-O!...first I can scooter and then stop to play in the snow". He said with a chuckle.
In a nutshell, the lesson that I learned that day is: There are no boundaries when it comes to having fun, especially when you are on vacation, so it's okay to change your mind even if you are in the middle of something.
Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
by Hal Evan Caplan.
A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.