A Laptop Naptime Mama

Monday, December 18, 2006

Stroller Fascists by Joanne Rendell

While we are on the subject of strollers, I have an ax to grind. One very big, shiny, murderous ax which needs to be ground and ground and ground and…

You guessed it, I’m angry.

Today, while I was battling my way through the mayhem of New York Holiday shoppers and found myself jostled and shoved on a horribly busy crosswalk, I accidentally nipped a guy’s heels with Benny’s stroller. Even though the wheels are spindly and plastic and probably wouldn’t hurt a Chihuahua if they struck one, I dutifully shouted out my apologies. The man simply puffed on his cigarette, looked at me like I was Chihuahua poo, and swaggered onward in his 300 dollar jeans. The next moment, as I contemplated the stick-up-their-ass-ness of too many New Yorkers, I was jostled by the eager crowds behind me. Once again the stroller nipped smoking man’s heel. After I’d recovered from the jolt that pushed me into him in the first place and was about to shout out my second apology, the man turned on me.

“Once,” he hissed, his eyes scornful and his mouth puckered, “But, twice?”

Then with a flick of his head, he ignored my fumbling apology, and pushed off through the crowds. Of course, as soon as was gone, my cheeks flushed with a mix of embarrassment, anger, and indignation. Why had I been so lame? Why did I mumble and blush? Why didn’t I say something dismissive and rude back to him? In fact, why didn’t I pick up the stroller (with Benny inside) and crack it over the back of his head shouting, “And one for your head!”

Okay, I know the man had some right to be angry at being nipped (and I really mean nipped here, I didn’t exactly take the guy down) by a stroller a couple of times. But, cheesh, surely he could see I wasn’t entirely to blame. Could he not see I was battling among hoards of bag-laden shoppers with a rickety stroller and a hungry three year old? Could he not see that I’d just gone out for some milk and was simply trying to get across a busy, death-trap, car-honking Broadway to go home again? (okay, I concede he might not have been able to see that).

I think it made me mad mostly because it reminded me how inconsiderate people can be when it comes to strollers. There is way too much stroller inconsideration going on in this world. In fact, every time I leave the house with Benny in the stroller, I come face to face with a member of the “stroller inconsiderati.” Indeed, there are so many stroller inconsideratis out there, I’m now able to classify them into species.

Most common are the cross walk hogs. These are the people who, when I am waiting to cross the street, pass beside me and then promptly stand in front of the stroller. Then, when the walk sign glows, they dally across the road leaving me to dither this way and that as I try to get around them.

Second, there are the cell phone wanderers. These people are closely related to the cross walk hogs. They overtake me on the sidewalk as they chitter on their cells only to then swerve and bob in front of the stroller. Meanwhile, I trail behind flicking the stroller to and fro trying to avoid nipping their heels (and we know what trouble that gets me in).

Third, there’s the stroller blind. These people whisk by me as I try and haul Benny and his stroller up and down the stairs to the subway or in and out of heavy doors to shops. They do not see the stroller, they don’t offer a helping hand, and quite often they let doors slam in our faces

Fourth, there are the chicken players. These are the most daring of the stroller inconsiderati species. Unlike the stroller blind, they see strollers. Oh yes, they definitely see them and they dare themselves to play bold games of chicken with oncoming strollers. If they see a baby and a carriage coming their way, they walk straight toward them. They never, never, move off track and in the final moments, just as contact is about to be made, it is up to the stroller pusher to maneuver quickly around the death-defying chicken player.

And finally, there are the out-and-out stroller fascists. These are the folks who tut, huff, or even swear if a stroller so much as looks at them. If it blocks their way, or comes into a fancy store they might own, or holds them up when they want to exit a busy train, it’s not pretty. They let you know with their sneers or their biting words where you and your stroller belong.

Today’s snooty-pooty man, with his expensive jeans and foul smelling cigarette, has (I’m sorry to say) the makings of a stroller fascist. And what I’d like to say to him – and the rest of the stroller inconsiderati out there – is this. “Strollers contain kids. Kids grow up. And it is these kids who, in the future, are going to be making your jeans and selling your cigarettes. In fact, they are going to be pushing your wheelchairs when you’re too infirm to walk. So, please, treat them and their four-wheeled carriages with some consideration!”

Okay, I feel so much better now.

For more of Joanne Rendell's mommy blogs - including "Fishing for Poo," "Should Mommy's Wear Thongs?" and "What's that dangly thing between his legs?" then Click Here to visit her at the popular website, Get Crafty. To return to the Role Mommy home page, Click Here.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Stroller Fetish

The other day, I was on the phone with my best friend in Berkeley who’s pregnant for the first time. Amid our musings about possible names and other baby-on-the-way talk, she announced, “Ooh, I was looking at strollers online yesterday. I’m going to need your advice.”

To many, such words would be run-of-the-mill and everyday. But to me, oh boy, what sweet, sweet words! In fact, as my friend spoke them, my heart thudded in my chest, my throat clenched with excitement, and it was all I could do to squeak out my joyous reply. “Of course!” When I had imparted pearls of stroller wisdom and our phone call was done, it took every ounce of willpower not to log onto jetblue.com and book myself a flight out West. After all, the thought of going shopping with my friend – trying out the latest strollers in the baby stores, testing the lightness of their frames, marveling at the smoothness of their rides, counting their pockets, clips, and doo-dad – well, let’s just say, it was so so tempting. Especially for someone like me with a grade A, unabashed, stroller fetish.

Before you think me some sort of baby paraphernalia junkie, I should point out that I’m generally a very thrifty parent. In fact, I have always prided myself on my determination not to be swept up into the dizzying hyper-consumption that Babies R Us and BuyBuyBaby would have all new parents swept up in. I was never lured into buying a Diaper Genie to dispose of smelly diapers. I’ve always used yesterday’s grocery bags and simply tied a knot to lock in the fumes. Instead of purchasing miniscule jars of apple sauce festooned with pictures of chubby babies, I’ve always headed straight to the preserves section of the supermarket and picked up a nice hefty jars of apple sauce and then later served the sauce to Benny from an old yogurt pot. When the trash can at the local pool was filled with discarded swim diapers, I took Benny’s home and laundered them (okay, maybe not the poop ones). And, back in the day when Benny loved to watch mobiles above his changing table, he didn’t look up at something that cost $29.99 from Kmart. No, he gurgled up at a dangling plastic bowl with four Christmas baubles attached (the whole thing cost a dollar!).

But, strollers? I admit it. Despite my frugality elsewhere, strollers are my weakness.

Benny, I must just say, has never rode in a Bugaboo or anything that fancy. However, he has had six strollers in his short life time. Yes, six. Although, I must also say that we haven’t simply been buying and then trashing perfectly good strollers. Oh no, no. There are lots of very justifiable reasons for purchasing and discarding so many strollers.

Our first stroller – the trusty Maclaren Techno XT – we bought before Benny was born. We were told it was a “must” for any self-respecting NY parents. Light, collapsible, reclinable, but also sturdy, dependable, and still, after all these years, hip (Kate Winslet has been pictured with one and, I think, Sarah Jessica Parker too). But, living in a third floor walk-up, we soon discovered the Techno wasn’t exactly light and the plastic wheels didn’t do well on NY’s potholed, death-trap sidewalks. And folding it, while holding a mewing, whimpering, three week old in one arm? Forget it. So, we traded our techno for what we called the “hummer stroller” which, although the opposite of light (the thing weighed a million pounds), it had pneumatic tires and could be bumped up and down stairs. Plus, those lovely wheels made it a dream to push around the city. But then Benny got bigger…and bigger…and bigger and bumping the hummer, complete with growing child, down the stairs of our apartment building became a job that even Arnold Schwarzengger might sweat over. So, then we bought….

Okay, okay, I wont go on with our Great Stroller Adventure. You’re probably asleep already. But, the long and the short of it is this. Finding the right stroller for Benny has involved a lot of trial and error, a lot of thought, a lot of research. Not to mention trips to stores to test new models, to paw at new fabrics, to unfasten and refasten harnesses, and badger harried sales assistants about weights and add-ons and wheel sizes. And, for some reason, I have loved every minute of it!

Perhaps it’s how people feel about buying cars. I don’t know. Living in NYC, cars aren’t important. But strollers? They’re our wheels! They’re our ride. They’re our cars. They allow us to get from A to B with a 9 pound baby or even a three year old 40 pounder in tow.

Therefore, I believe they deserve all the attention, love, and reverie that stroller geeks like me afford them.

For more of Joanne Rendell's mommy blogs - including "Fishing for Poo," "Should Mommy's Wear Thongs?" and "What's that dangly thing between his legs?" then Click Here to visit her at the popular website, Get Crafty. To return to the Role Mommy home page, Click Here.