Last week the Daily Mail ran a typically odious piece designed to panic parents and turn them against one another. The subject: big kids in buggies.
The article ‘explored’ the phenomenon of parents pushing children practically old enough to go to school around in buggies rather than encouraging them to walk. The arguments against it are clear: it encourages laziness, prevents parents from interacting with their offspring and may, in the long term, lead to obesity as children fail to develop an appropriately active lifestyle. A few parents made reasonable arguments for – they didn’t have cars where many parents who judged did, and walking to, around and home from the supermarket with an ambling pre-schooler could well take over half your day.
On the whole I’d prefer not to judge but, let’s be honest, it does look a bit weird.
Imagine a giant squid, long tentacles waving and twirling freely with grace and charm, skilfully reaching out to grab whatever it wants and propelling the whole strange creature smoothly through the sea. Then imagine squashing that squid into a cereal box, attaching wheels and pushing it around Morrisons. Imagine it’s long, flowing tentacles being gradually worn down and deformed as they trail underneath that box, bashing against ugly mechanical wheels. Then, to top it all off, shove an inappropriately technological gadget in its hand and watch its goggly eyes glaze over as it watches 15 consecutive episodes of Peppa Pig on YouTube.
Not a pretty sight.
My problem is that it was all well and good secretly judging when my boy was a baby, but now that he’s two and getting pretty big, I’m starting to see the dilemma.
I don’t drive. I cycle and have a child seat, but there’s no way in hell I’d dare take him out on the main roads. So, if we actually need to go anywhere or do anything, we have to walk.
Walking’s fine. Great in fact, but walking at toddler pace when you actually need to get anywhere is torturous. If Zeus thought Sisyphus’s punishment of continuously pushing a boulder up a hill was enough to create eternal frustration, he’s never spent the afternoon with a to do list, a deadline and a toddler whose sense of urgency is less well developed than a stoned snail’s.
Still, I hate pushing a buggy around. Half the time it’s empty as the boy toddles alongside, meaning I’m taking up all the space and getting in everyone’s way with no real reason for being such a pain.
I’ve tried several times now to abandon the buggy, resulting in:
1. Being followed round Boots by a security guard as my son played the toddler equivalent of supermarket sweep on the bottom shelves.
2. A quick nip to the shops to buy bread and milk turning into a near 3 hour mission.
3. Lugging a big flopping lump the 20 minutes home from the park after he literally fell asleep while walking.
This is the real problem no one sees. Kids may be able to charge round with seemingly boundless energy, but eventually they’ll crash and burn, and unless you’ve got the arm power of Geoff Capes, at some point you need to put them down to go to sleep.
Eventually nap times will tail off and the excuses for still having a buggy will gradually fade away. It’s tempting to think you could start to train toddlers out of nap times, or be one of those annoying mums who have an actual schedule and make it home for their child to sleep in an actual bed. Smug gits.
But as long as an impromptu nap time is the only chance I’ll get to indulge in this…
I’ll be sticking with the buggy and ignoring any judgemental looks.
What do you think?