“Oh come on, he doesn’t need a helmet! Riding a trottinette is easy.”

“He doesn’t understand how it works.”

“Sure he does.”

“He’s gonna fall.”

“It’s not that difficult!”

We bought Mark a trottinette, i.e. a kick scooter—but since none of us knew the proper terminology for it English, we adopted the French name. It sounds better, anyway.

I had a trottinette when I was a kid. It was bright red and my dad used a stencil to write “Juliette-Trottinette” on the handles, which was the coolest thing ever because I actually thought all the trottinettes had my name on them.

I can’t remember learning how to ride it, much like I can’t remember learning how to ride a bike, how to read or how to swim. Or, rather, I can’t remember not knowing. On the other hand, Feng acquired most of these skills as a young teen, when he came to Canada. This is probably why I would just give the trottinette to Mark and let him figure it out while Feng would bubble-wrap him and provide step-by-step instructions.

As usual, the truth lies somewhere in between. Mark understood how it works but he thought he’d be able to jump over the Loire River with his trottinette even though he can’t find his balance.

“Up… down. Foot up… foot down…”

“Oh, man!”

Yes, it’s harder than it seems. Riding a kick scooter is an acquired skill.

“Alright, I’ll show you.”

“Wow, you’re good at this mommy!”

“Well, I have years of experience… did you see my knees?”

I have old scars everywhere on my legs. Nothing too ugly or unusual, but once in a while, someone notices and asks me what happened. “Er… I fell off my bike/skateboard/surfboard at one point between the age of 3 and 34?” I reply, slightly puzzled—doesn’t everybody has scars from crash-landing after going downhill at full speed?

Mark has a new bandage on his left knee. Maybe we won’t register him for a Red Bull challenge yet. Meanwhile, we practise riding the trottinette in the evening, on Nantes’ smooth pavement.

Trottinette, day 1
Trottinette, day 1
Trottinette, day 1
The learning curve, between rue de la Fosse and place Royale
The learning curve, between rue de la Fosse and place Royale
The learning curve, between rue de la Fosse and place Royale
A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes
A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes
A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes
A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes
A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes
A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes
A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes
A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes
A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes
A couple of days later, on the Île de Nantes
… and this is usually how it ends…
… and this is usually how it ends…
… and this is usually how it ends…

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20 Comments

  1. Martin Penwald August 1, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    I vaguely remember learning to bike, but I’ve never had a trotinette nor a skateboard. And I’m scar free because I was too much of a wimp to let my bike go too fast. But I still got some memorable falls.

    Reply
    1. Zhu August 2, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      Lucky you! I still get new scars at the ripe old age of 24 😆

      Reply
  2. kiky August 1, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    it is “otopet” in my language. I guess it was adapted from Dutch not sure.
    I remember when my daughter a little younger than Mark, she felt down right away on her first attempt. It is hard to ride trottinette

    Reply
    1. Zhu August 2, 2017 at 3:37 pm

      Oh, that’s a cool name! Are those common in Indonesia?

      Reply
      1. kiky August 2, 2017 at 10:52 pm

        you can find it everywhere I guess. Even in local Carrefour 😉
        the staffs even use this to mobile here and there, considering the store is very hugeeeee

        Reply
  3. Shannon August 2, 2017 at 6:15 am

    As a pedestrian, trottinettes are one of the things I hate the most. The sidewalks are fairly narrow around here, and as it seems like everyone has a trottinette, I’m constantly almost getting run over by them. If I hear or see one coming, I do tend to move out of the way – a “merci” would be nice every once and awhile, but it’s very rare. And the “riders” look at me out of annoyance. As sidewalks are made for pedestrians, I shouldn’t have to be the one accommodating them. Drives me nuts. And of course, my one dog loves the sound of the wheels (same goes for skateboards), so she tries to chase it each time.

    Mark looks cute on his trottinete though!

    Reply
    1. Zhu August 2, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      I have a big issue in Ottawa with people biking (at full speed) on the sidewalk. In Nantes too, in some places, but trottinettes aren’t that common on crowded sidewalks. Most kids practice on public square, where there is plenty of room. I guess it can be an issue when adults use it to commute.

      Reply
      1. Shannon August 5, 2017 at 4:04 am

        Oh yeah, bikes too – especially the Deliveroo and the like bikers! And scooters. Like actual for the road scooters. Sometimes, I feel the sidewalks here are almost as dangerous as the roads. Kids with trottinettes are not the problem – they tend to be fairly respectful. Adults are the problem, and there are a lot of them.

        Reply
  4. Isa August 2, 2017 at 6:53 am

    Hi, I’m Isa. I’m 30. And I don’t know how to ride a trottinette

    *HI ISA*

    Reply
    1. Zhu August 2, 2017 at 3:41 pm

      Faudrait faire d’une pierre deux coups… genre, on t’apprend pis tu joues avec Mark une ou deux heures 😆

      Reply
      1. Isa August 3, 2017 at 5:59 am

        Deal !!

        Reply
  5. Huey August 2, 2017 at 11:33 am

    I don’t know where I learn it but we call it a step. Or step scooter. Every kid has it in Holland.

    Reply
    1. Zhu August 2, 2017 at 3:41 pm

      Thank you for the terminology input! Step scooter makes sense, actually.

      Reply
  6. N August 2, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    We don’t have room to store bikes here (it’s already a challenge for our 2 adult sized bikes), so for the twins birthday this year one of them got a skate (he thought it was the coolest thing) and the other one a scooter (patinete, for Brazilians). The scooter is much easier to ride than the skate, so guess what they are fighting over most days…

    Reply
    1. Zhu August 2, 2017 at 8:02 pm

      😆 These are cool toys, though. They will probably play with them for a while! Do you bike a lot over there?

      Reply
      1. N August 4, 2017 at 9:23 am

        Yes! I love my bike and there are bike paths in the neighborhood, specially a very practical one all along the main avenue. It’s awesome.

        Reply
        1. Zhu August 6, 2017 at 5:14 pm

          It is awesome! Driving in Brazil is… ahem, an acquired skills. It’s a cool alternative way to get around.

          Reply
  7. Lexie August 4, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    Pis on peut voir tes genoux ?! 😉

    Reply
    1. Zhu August 6, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      Ah, je ferai une photo… mais, franchement, rien de terrible!

      Reply

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