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Stroller Bitching: Big Kids in Little Strollers

As I have said many, many times before, once you make that monumental leap toward parenthood, you open yourself up to, what amounts to be, a whirlwind of judgment and scrutiny that will hunt you like a spring mosquito. This is unfortunate, but irrefutably true. You breed and people disparage. While some parents understand the unpleasantness of this and opt to take a moral highroad by not engaging or indulging such behavior, we all have our moments of looking at the struggling family in the airport, or at the drive-thru, and quietly scathing them under our breath (so as our own children cannot detect our pettiness). I, as enlightened as I may come off, have this problem with children, of a certain age, who are still being carted around in strollers.

I have always been somewhat ambivalent about the use of strollers, but believe me, between the ages of 6 months and 24 months, their habitual use has its benefits (napping for one). But I take no issue with a two-year-old in a stroller, why I might even stop and smile at the child (and parent). What I have a hard time with is coming upon children above the age of 5 still rollin’ in the stroller (providing that these children are entirely ambulatory and not challenged with any disability). I am not exactly proud of this bit of intolerance, but I recently felt vindicated when I came upon the photo blog toobigforstroller.com. As you may detect from the title, this is a collection of photos (most of which seem to have been taken in cities and/or amusement parks) where children are being pushed along like crafty stowaways with feet dragging over the foot rests, while the seat struggles to remain upright with the 50+ lbs of weight threatening to collapse the whole operation. Often times these are children who categorically refuse to walk in a straight line for more than three meters, or children who have chewed through their child harnesses long ago, and have found the stroller to be a more humane approach to their feral nature. Sometimes it is more about the parent, who long ago gave up on walking side by side with their child (or having to carry them) and has opted to push their child out in front of them and into the world on a stroller festooned with travel mugs, deflated bags of snacks, and pendulous shopping bags.

Stroller commentary courtesy of the 2009 film Away We Go

My problem with it is not so much that these strollers take up an amazing amount of space, especially in airports or on tight avenues. I take more of an issue with the ingrained laziness of the whole endeavor and how our culture often endorses the path of least resistance over reasonable exertion. I am not saying that strollers don’t have their place (as I mentioned above) and to expect a young child to walk a brisk half marathon through crowds and potholes is just unreasonable. But much of what I have witnessed on the offense of big kids occupying strollers collapsing under their weight, is more along the lines of perfectly healthy and capable children, who should be pounding the pavement, in steady repose while the world flies by. As petty as this may seem, I know I am not alone in my annoyance (as is evidenced by the website and its many fans), but I am sure there are worse offenses out there. Does this bother (and I say bother, not enrage) anyone else out there? Are there other practices you periodically witness among parents and children that get your proverbial goat? Is it just better to take a breath and look the other way (obviously a rhetorical question)?

Read more: Babies, Children, Family, Parenting at the Crossroads, Pregnancy, , , , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

84 comments

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6:45AM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

My daughter is 5 and looks/acts like a perfectly normal kid so I sometimes get ugly looks from other adults when I'm pushing her in a stroller. If they only knew that she has hundreds of epileptic seizures a day - some of which throw her to the ground - then maybe they wouldn't be too quick to judge me. So, a lesson to us all, let's not judge on what we think we see because there could be a whole lot that we don't see.

2:03PM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

equally annoyed

4:38AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

I didn't really give it much thought before but having seen the movie Away We Go (featured in the clip above) and reading this article I'd say I wouldn't want to use a stroller IF I were ever to have kids. You can carry your kids up until they are able to walk on their own and from that point on, they need to walk on their own...that's my opinion.

6:38PM PDT on Jul 20, 2011

nice opinion.. It made me wonder sometimes why there are still a lot of moms keeps on using strollers when their kids are big enough to walk. Yes, there's nothing wrong with the use of strollers but only for those who really need it.
[url=http://doublestrollersforinfantandtoddler.org/a-parental-review-of-the-bumbleride-indie-twin/
/] bumbleride indie twin
[/url]

6:29PM PDT on Jul 20, 2011

Great idea.. It's really true that when the kids reach the age for them to could actually walk then they should walk and just leave the used of strollers to the little one. double strollers for infant and toddler

7:15PM PDT on Jun 20, 2011

Haha I'm totally with you on this one!

2:11PM PDT on Jun 2, 2011

Ooh and to all who say that after a certain age kids should walk PERIOD then I do hope you are not being hypocritical and letting your kids get in a car. I mean they should WALK. ;)

1:10PM PDT on Jun 2, 2011

We used a stroller for a while, last time the boy was probably 6 and a half. We didnt have a car, still dont have one. Rather than limit our activities to what can realistically be expected from a 6 year old we used a stroller sometimes. I remember once getting harrassed by a woman for using a stroller. On that day my 6 year old had taken a 2 hour hike with me ending up at the beach. There we had lunch and we played and swam all day long ending with a bbq at the picnic area for our dinner. We then had a 45 minute hike to get home. My husband had joined us after lunch, bringing the stroller along so our 6 year old, who was falling asleep on my shoulder at that point, could get home. The woman who harassed me was loading her two kids into a car. I bet they drove there as well.

I totally agree that kids who overuse strollers is not really a good thing but in my group of friends this is pretty common. Most of us dont have cars or severely limit there use in favor of walking, biking and such and almost all of us have used strollers as a logistical tool as long as we have needed to. We all have kids that are extremely active. Going along on school day trips as a class parent I notice that our kids who use strollers are generally in much better shape than the kids who get driven everywhere.

5:36PM PDT on May 20, 2011

interesting perspective, thanks for sharing.

5:27PM PDT on May 20, 2011

Dear Kirsten
thank you for your message, it was nice of you to take time to reply. And, don't worry - I am not upset.
I just wanted to point out that there can be legitimate cases where a child over 4 is in a stroller. Sometimes, it's simply because the person gets around on foot a lot and doesn't want to impose too much walking on a child that is too small. Usually, these people use "age-appropriate" strollers, though, so, no dangling feet .
I understand the purpose of the post, and while it can be unnerving to see in a stroller a child people deem old enough to be walking on her/his own, don't automatically assume that, "in every case", the parents are "not consistent" or that the child is too spoiled to walk. It might simply be that the parent is trying to adopt a healthy and green lifestyle, like you and me.

P.S. Have a nice spring! The trees are flowering right now where I live, and it's a charm to be walking back home from daycare, with my daughter, rather than driving :o)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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