Those afflicted with a burning, itching case of misopedia will love this article: Why Do We Hate Seeing Big Kids In Strollers? For those disinclined to click on any links, ever, it’s a spirited Q&A with the proprietor of the blog Too Big For Stroller. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a collection of photos of slightly-older kids who seem perfectly capable of walking on their own, yet are pushed around in strollers by their doting parents.
from the TBFS blog – I blurred the faces
This is another occasion where I get to say MAN, PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY SURE HAVE OPINIONS ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE’S PARENTING SKILLS. And I’m not immune to it, either – I’ve certainly found myself in full catty/bitchy mode discussing how eye-rollingly stupid some mother or father seems, despite knowing full well my subjectivity is shot. But I do try to keep it in check, because
a) what the fuck do I know?
b) kids are not widgets and respond differently to every coping mechanism
c) and, c,
d) complaining about other people’s parenting is so easy and feels so good that it must be bad for you.
My problem with the Salon article and the blog is not the mean-spiritedness (for which I’ve always meant spirit), but because it plays into a larger American narrative: kids today are lazy, obese, overconfident fuckwads who are mollycoddled by their ninny parents. Forget that these children in strollers are under 8 years old – it’s part of the same instant hatred we have for teens who text while they drive, can’t find Florida on a map of Florida, and are drunk with their own vanity.
You might counter that the criticism isn’t hurled at the kids; it’s reserved for their parents. But I think it’s time to debunk that particular canard. When people are disgusted by kids’ behavior, they are disgusted with the kid first and foremost, and the parent as an afterthought. Let’s face facts: children that don’t behave the way you want them to are easy to hate. I know, I was one of them.
When you see a child who is way too big for their stroller, you instantly think “what a lazy brat.” And that’s the real problem, because the child herself has no idea what’s going on – she just knows there’s a stroller and she was told to sit in it. And when there’s an article called “Why Do We Hate Seeing Big Kids in Strollers?”, it means there isn’t an article called “Why Do Parents Put Big Kids in Strollers?”
My other problem with the article and the blog is that both were written by someone without kids:
“I don’t have a kid. Maybe I don’t understand…”
“I don’t have kids either, and so maybe this is naïve, but…”
They probably should have recused themselves from the topic for the same reason I don’t write about experiences in the Israeli army or my struggles with endometriosis.
But let’s step even further back. Let’s forget about all the reasons why you’d have a larger kid in a stroller. Let’s ignore that it enables you and your child to see half a European city in one day (rather than twelve), or that you may have a child with special needs. Let us walk far enough back to ask: WHY THE FUCK DO WE EVEN HAVE AN OPINION? Why have we become such JUDGMENTAL NERVOUS NELLY SNARKMONSTERS that we feel our displeasure needs to be aired?
A woman pushing a shopping cart down the produce aisle is a discerning, healthy shopper – but if she pushes the same cart down a sidewalk, she’s fucking homeless. Doesn’t it all get a bit exhausting, all these opinions? For my part, I promise you this: I will never judge you by the thing with wheels you’re pushing.
I don’t care if the kid in your stroller is 10 years old and barking out directions in an English accent, with his knees near his mouth like a basketball player sitting in coach. I don’t care if you’re carting a masturbating teenager through the ped mall in a perambulator because his toesies hurt. If I see a big kid in a stroller, I’m not going to assume you’ve got a pretty damned good reason for it, I’m not even going to do you the dishonor of giving a shit.
Lucy and Polly traverse Paris via stroller last year