​Putting the wiggle back in life


Chubby Checker came to mind as I sat at my home office desk the other day. Checker made "The Twist" a dancing sensation in the 1960s. He came to mind because a pre-teen girl rode by our house wiggling back and forth on what is basically a two-piece skateboard.

I did a Google search for "wiggling skateboard" and learned about the Ripstik. YouTube has various videos on how to ride a Ripstik, and virtually all of them are produced by and starred in by pre-teen kids.

When I first saw the girl ride by my window I thought, That looks like a lot of work for a little fun. It's obvious I see everything through old eyes. That would be great exercise, I thought. But the girl wasn't exercising. She leisurely went back and forth on our street – wore me out watching.

There is one obvious difference between a Ripstik and a conventional skateboard. It has two pieces connected by a pipe. The fact that the two decks (the tops) pivot from side to side is similar to a skateboard, except the two ends function independently.

What I discovered online is that there is another substantial difference. Skateboards have two wheels on each end; a Ripstik has only one. In other words, a Ripstik will not sit flat on its wheels; a person has to balance it. Whoa! That would be scary for an old guy, but the young ones seem to master it easily.

On one informal how-to video, a little tike about age 5, steps on and goes while his big sister instructs, "You have to wiggle and wiggle and wiggle." The wiggling both balances the board and propels it forward.

Another video showed a pre-teen boy using a building pillar to support him as he started, but I was thinking he ought to talk to the five-year-old about just taking off and going.

Ripstiks have been around a while, but the girl doing The Twist down my street cause me to investigate. She must have been new at it because later in the day she came wiggling by at greater speed and using less effort. She was joined by a friend and two younger boys.

Watching my neighbors and the videos of various kids from around the world reminded me of the great joy that childhood activity brings. Just doing something new and different is exciting and freeing and entertaining.

I doubt I will ever try to ride a Ripstik, though I did jump on my grandchildren's Razor scooter the other day and had a blast without killing myself. (It's a pretty good workout.) But watching children at play is really cool. They are preparing for the life that is ahead of them. And, on a Ripstik, they are wiggling their way into the future.

They don't need much help having fun, but it can be great fun for us older folks (including teenage and young adult siblings) to help them navigate the trickier details of life. Life can be fun from start to finish, just in different ways.

Wiggle on – with or without a board.
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