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)?