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Riding a Trottinette Is an Acquired Skill

“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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