Christmas is a time of year when everyone is set for a roller coaster of emotions. I've certainly felt a whole gambit of emotions this holiday season. Frustration at the shops, happiness to see family, sadness at saying goodbye to them, regret from eating too much and joy, the joy a parent feels when the children wake up and see their presents.
My husband and I are the sort who start planing our Christmas gifts back in June. We like to be organised and hate the financial strain at the end of the year. This year we were blessed enough for our daughter to be a recipient of the Better Start funding and at the end of the financial year we faced a use it or loose it situation with some of her funding. We decided to think ahead and buy her a Christmas gift, something that she would be ready for in another 6 months - a scooter.
Now this isn't any old scooter. It cost 9 times the price of the scooter we bought for our middle daughter. It's a three wheeler with articulated steering. It has an impressive maximum weight limit and ergonomic handle bars. Plus it's purple. :) I couldn't tell you how many times the joy of simply buying a toy for my eldest has been robbed from me because of always having to think of: what is developmentally appropriate, what is help to help motor skills, what will help social skills etc.
On Christmas morning there were two scooters awaiting our eldest girls (our youngest is only 1 so we thought she could wait a few years!). We knew they were both expecting a scooter from Santa. We were expecting them to be over the moon at seeing them. What happened next was not something we expected.
Our eldest couldn't stop riding her scooter. We don't have any concrete around the house so she rode it up and down the hallway and back and forth across the verandah. She mastered it pretty quickly. Our middle girl was keen on hers but her skill level prevented her from mastering the scooter balance. The next morning saw a trip to the park where we saw a dozen other kids all zooming around on the scooter they had obviously just received from Santa. Our eldest took less than 10 minutes to completely floor her parents.
She had speed, she had balance, she had two feet off the ground. She taught herself how to use the brake! She rode her scooter down the path towards to street filled with traffic. She made her parents gasp with fear, she stopped the scooter, hopped off and turned it around without prompting.
We were just gobsmacked. Our big girl had completely exceeded all our expectations. Our middle girl was enjoying her own success but will need more practice to master it. Our big girl was able to master in so quickly in part because she's 2 1/2 years older than her little sister, but also because she was riding a scooter that was designed to make it easier for her.
Two things have jumped out at me from this experience. It is right and fair that sometimes our big girl gets things easily, and before her sister does. One day her sister will pass her in pretty much everything; her peers already do. But just this once it wasn't hard. We have found so much joy in this.
The second thing is that I see this as a perfect example of how our girl, and many like her, can do the same things as their peers. Sometimes they just need a modification or two, and adjustment here or there, different methods, different materials. Equality of opportunity is a phrase you'll hear a lot from me.
We took the girls back to the park the same afternoon as they were so keen to keep scooting. Our big girl saw the teenage boys at the skate bowl and wanted to have a go. One split lip and two grazed knees later we couldn't be prouder of her!