My daughters were both dreaming of scooters and skateboards for Christmas. It was on the top of their Santa lists. I understand wanting them, I was just not sure where they could use them.
The sidewalks here in our part of Portugal are all made of stone mosaics. Not a flat surface at all. They are insanely beautiful with intricate patterns. Great to look at, not practical for anything else. Hard to walk, harder to run on and impossible to ride on. Also, sidewalks are basically just parking spaces here. People use the nice wide sidewalks to pull up on to and leave their cars. Oh yeah, and dog poop is everywhere. Truly a mine field. At Maggie’s school, the only way to pick her up is to drive on the sidewalk where kids are exiting school at the same time. Extremely dangerous, but normal.
Alas, Santa granted their wishes. Maggie got her skateboard and Pippa her scooter. They started out riding on the ceramic tile in our backyard. They didn’t get too far. They needed more space. We decided to take them to the Estrella park in Lisbon. The park is gorgeous. Lots of room to move around. Cement pathways. Mature magnolia trees, a play structure and a coffee place…what else do you need?
Apparently, every kid in the greater Lisbon area who received some sort of toy with wheels decided to practice their skills at the park. It was a complete and total traffic jam. Kids with new toys and no skills were everywhere. Some had helmets and protective gear. Other kids were wild, weaving in between people and speeding like complete nut jobs. Maggie was cautious. Pippa was fearless.
After about an hour, my nerves were shot. The kids wanted to forge ahead. I gave in and let them practice for a few more minutes with promises of returning to the park soon…after the holiday crush. A week later, I brought them back. Less traffic jams, thankfully, but they are never going to become masters because they really can only practice at this park. This is reality for my newly minted European kids. Cool sidewalks that you can’t use.
You never realize how easy riding your scooter or skateboard is on a paved sidewalk until you don’t have one.