“When I have a baby of my own, it will be strapped to me as an infant, and then it will be walking. No middle ground.” That’s a quote from Laura Miller, a 27-year-old New Jersey native who lives in Jersey City. Miller is the curator of the Tumblr blog “Too Big for Stroller,” which – in the tradition of all great Tumblrs – consists of exactly what the title suggests: photos of big kids in strollers.
I’ll be the first to admit that the blog is funny, as is any blog that analyzes/mocks photos out of context. (“People of Wal*Mart” is hilarious… until you stop and think about how many times you’ve done a Wal*Mart run unshowered and in sweats.) The snarky tone of the blog speaks to the “stroller rage” that has been part of the zeitgeist since 2001 when the Bugaboo Frog was invented. Ten years later, Bugaboo is about to release the Donkey – a $1500 double wide! – and anti-stroller sentiment rages on in cities across America. Especially New York.
I asked Miller why it “pisses her right off” to see kids that she deems “too big for stroller” being pushed by their parents. Here’s what she told me:
To be clear, I fully understand and respect the function of strollers and why they’re useful for parents, but aesthetically, yes, I mostly dislike them. An admittedly sassy part of me finds something very “uncool” about them. As for big kids in strollers (and assuming that that child has no mental/physical disabilities that warrant the use of a stroller), it’s just funny to me. Though I might not love a stroller, if it’s holding a baby or a toddler, it’s like, I get it. But with actual kids, it’s like, come on. You’re seven. Your feet are touching the ground. You haven’t taken a nap in four years. You’re learning math.
Most parents I’ve discussed the subject of stroller hate with are quick to point out that the use of a stroller isn’t meant to baby the child inside of it, but – perhaps ironically since it doesn’t seem to be working – to prevent inconveniencing other people by avoiding an exhausted meltdown in the middle of the sidewalk. Our Rebecca Odes put it like this: “Stop complaining about kids being too old for a stroller…. I was guilty of this myself before I had kids. Before you’ve been there, it just looks… wrong. But when you’re dealing with the competing pressures of a miserable, exhausted kid and a time crunch, you honestly don’t give a rat’s ass what anything looks like.”
Not to mention the fact that a child who looks like a 7-year-old in a stroller very well could be a large 4-year-old. (I have a friend with 2-year-old twins who are continually mistaken for being at least a year older than they are.) I asked Miller what she thought an appropriate age cut-off might be for stroller use, and she said, “I have no opinion on an appropriate cut-off age mostly because I’m terrible at determining milestones and how old kids are when they should start/stop doing things, but I just think that if your kid is too big to carry comfortably, they should be walking. And if they complain about walking, well that’s just too bad. Maybe don’t bring them to Times Square yet.”
Maybe don’t bring them to Times Square yet? But what if you live in Hell’s Kitchen? The problem with this kind of anti-stroller rhetoric is that it only works to the extent that it’s humorous (to those who aren’t already worn-out parents who might be offended by it). Practically, it doesn’t address the issue of how to get young children prone to tantrums (and they all are) from Point A to Point B. It’s very easy for those without children to make assumptions about what life with a child is like, but trust me – it’s nothing like whatever you think it is. I thought that by the time my daughter was 5 we’d be spending all our time together laughing and playing on top of a unicorn-covered rainbow. I never imagined I’d still be covered from head-to-toe in poop thanks to the bathroom accidents we’re dealing with as a result of the emotional residue from my divorce. (My daughter’s bathroom accidents, not mine. I poop in the toilet almost every single time.)
But on a positive note – at least as far as Miller is concerned – I haven’t pushed my kid in a stroller since Summer 2009, when she was almost 4. She complains about walking two blocks, but she can run in the park for two hours. These are children we’re dealing with here. They complain almost as much as adults!
Which brings me to an important point, articulated by a parent friend who said, “Putting up with strollers (and the children in them) is under the bar of tolerance we have to set to live in a society. If I can tolerate Glenn Beck, ‘tea partiers’, fiscally conservative religious zealots, socialist millionaires, hipsters and performance artists, everyone can tolerate strollers. And they can smile while doing it, because children should make everyone smile.” (Is it worth noting this parent is male? And awesome?)
And to the idea that strollers are fueling the childhood obesity epidemic: take a look at the photos of the “big” children in strollers on Miller’s blog. Almost none of them are fat. In fact, almost all of them are TALL and THIN, which is why they look so strange in a stroller. (Maybe Bugaboo needs to ditch the Donkey and develop the Giant.) Makes me think lots of these kids are age-appropriate to be in a stroller, but just bigger than their peers.
Miller admits she has little to no experience having to use a stroller, even in her role as a babysitter. She says, “My mom is a middle school teacher and my sister is a nurse. We both did our share of babysitting when we were younger but never really left the house/yard with the kids, so using a stroller never came up.” Miller says she recently babysat a friend’s infant for an afternoon “and asked that she please drop him off with a Baby Bjorn, as I will not be seen pushing him through my hood in a stroller.” She added, “I guess I feel like I refuse to use one of those things until I’m a mom myself and pretty much forced to… cause yes, I do sorta plan on having kids someday.”
Exactly. Get your stroller-hate out now, girl, because it’s all fun and games until somebody pops a kid out. Then call me and let me know how your Bugaboo works.
Source: Too Big for Stroller