Daughter gets charge out of scooter

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Becca has wheels. No, she doesn't have a car.

At age 12, our oldest daughter is still too young for such a vehicle. But she does have a new electric, two-wheel scooter.

Now, she can visit one of her best friends who lives only blocks away without having to walk. Of course, she could ride a bicycle. But that involves pedal power. Becca prefers to let a battery do the work.

At a maximum of 15 mph, the scooter barely stirs the air. But it beats walking and bike riding, Becca will tell you.

Her friend has a scooter, too. That way they can both motor around the neighborhood.

As a dad, I appreciate the fact the scooter can't operate more than an hour without having to be charged up.

They won't be going shopping on the scooters. The small, bicycle-like wire baskets don't hold enough for a shopping spree. You'd be hard pressed to give the pet dog a ride.

Of course, the way the price of gasoline is soaring we may all be forced to buy electric scooters just to avoid having to file for personal bankruptcy over our increasingly costly commutes.

Even if Becca's scooter could run longer between charges, it's not practical for the long haul.

For one thing, it doesn't have a radio, CD or DVD player. All three have become essential for today's modern traveler. It also doesn't have a cup holder, which in today's fast-food world is a critical accessory for cars.

As a parent, I maintain the more the better when it comes to cup holders. You're asking for trouble if you have to haul your children around town without cup holders and still keep those soft drinks from spilling.

It's also handy to have enough room to carry a whole carload of shoes. That's particularly true when you have daughters.

Becca and her younger sister, Bailey, are shoe hounds. They have a whole assortment of footwear. As a guy, I have trouble understanding why girls need so many pairs of shoes. I mean, you can't wear more than one pair of shoes at a time.

But that doesn't stop girls from collecting countless pairs of shoes just because they look pretty. Utility has little to do with it.

Check any gal's closet and you'll see enough shoes to supply an entire shoe store.

Guys, on the other hand, have just a couple basic pairs of shoes.

That won't do for Becca and Bailey. Light-up sandals, the latest footwear fad, have become a hit with our daughters. They love to walk around, their every step blinking.

It's perfect for a nighttime walk on the beach. You can illuminate your path ... or at least your big toe.

I'm afraid to imagine what footwear will be like when my children's children start stepping out. Shoes probably will be outfitted with personal computers and television screens.

For now at least, my daughters are content with light-blinking flip-flops, assorted styles of tennis shoes, dress shoes and boots.

And also for now, Becca isn't behind a wheel. The scooter has handlebars.

It will be several years before she'll have her foot on the gas petal. But when you're 12, even an electric scooter is liberating, summertime fun.

But it's not a passport to total freedom. She's still plugged in to our lives and we're plugged in to hers.

As a parent, that's the way I want to keep it.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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