Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Driving lessons: Trip to the park

After dinner today Rebecca and I took a trip to the park. She rode her trike:

(note image is a couple months old)
Most of the way down she was all over the place, taking her hands off the wheel while I dutifully kept her course true by pushing the trike straight with the Kettler Convenient Handle of Parental Influence (tm).  She was good about keeping her feet on the pedals, at points even providing a small amount of propulsion.  Her steering was erratic though, and suggestions/commands like "Turn to the right" or "Steer away from the curb" would result in the opposite effect as often as not.  "Straighten out" worked pretty well though.
We got to the park (a 3 block trip) and she climbed onto the play structure.  A little girl and her mom arrived shortly thereafter.  I found out in quick order that her name was Gloria (actually she said Gloria-Stefani, pronounced like Gwen Stefani) and that she was a few days shy of three years old.  She had a few inches on Rebecca, and some obvious superior playground experience/coordination.  They were pretty cute, and ended up clambering up the playstructure taking turns going down the curly slide.  
At one point Gloria asked Rebecca if she could take the trike for a spin.  Of course this elicited no response from Becca, so I told her she could give it a go.  As soon as Gloria mounted up and started pedalling, Rebecca ran over and I was worried conflict over possession would follow.  I was pleasantly surprised as Rebecca took on the role of 'adult' and grabbed a hold of the handle.  Gloria could pedal quickly enough that Rebecca was having to run full tilt, especially around corners.  She didn't wipe out, fortunately, and had a blast tearing around.  They did a couple laps of the wading pool, went around the basketball court, and then went behind some bushes.  I got up to go after them and they emerged, with Rebecca riding and Gloria 'driving' from in behind.
After a few seconds of this, they switched back, and Gloria started chasing Rebecca.  Images of taking Rebecca home with tire tracks up her back flickered through my mind, but Becca wisely made a beeline for the grass.  Gloria dismounted and gave chase on foot.  She was quite a bit faster than Becca and caught up within a few seconds.  Hunter became the hunted and Rebecca really poured on the coals to keep up as they ran across the little soccer field.  Pouring on the coals consisted of flailing her arms and kicking her legs out to the side more, but not moving any faster, it seems.  She was tired.  They had made it half way across the field when Gloria's mom and I decided to go after them.  Gloria was caught at the far edge of the field by her mom, but she did a quick dodge and started running back chasing Rebecca, once again passing her and becoming the rabbit, rather than the greyhound.
Rebecca made it back pretty winded, and after a couple minutes of trying to persuade her to use the swing, it was time to go.  It was getting pretty dark and bedtime was approaching.  Gloria offered to push Rebecca home.  It was quite cute.
The ride home was amazing.  Rebecca only needed major directional corrections 3 or 4 times the whole way home, I was almost exclusively providing propulsion instead of physical guidance.  Gentle reminders of 'straight down the street' produced the desired result.  I think she 'gets' steering now.  Nifty.
So she sort of knows how to pedal, and understands steering, next up, putting the two together.
Then comes a bicycle with the seat lowered and pedals removed.
*rubbing hands together in anticipation*

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