Riding along

“Mommy,” Zachary says, as we round the top of a hill, “you know, I’ve had a lot of exercise today.”  His seemingly nonchalant demeanor doesn’t fool me.  He’s asking for something, and he is unlikely to let up until he gets it.

“Go ahead,” I sigh.  “Get in.”  Just like that, I am pushing my five-year-old in a stroller.

He is perfectly capable of walking, being generously endowed with two fully functional legs and a fabulous pair of feet.  Unlike his baby sister on the other side of the stroller, he is fully aware of how to use the aforementioned limbs.  Sometimes, he even chooses to walk.

Sometimes.

There are the days that his three-year-old brother is tearing down the sidewalk, up to all manner of No Good, while my eldest and youngest lounge side-by-side in their chariot.  More frequently, the boys like to argue about who gets to ride, although that may be because their preferred method of entertainment is pretty much always bickering.  I have negotiated many a ride-sharing agreement involving complicated derivatives.

My kid cannot seem to kick his stroller habit completely.  And I have become an enabler.  I know what people think.  I see the sidelong glances and hear the feigned-surprise remarks.  And yet, I keep letting that kid right back in.

“When I see a child being dropped off at my kindergarten in a stroller,” a teacher posted on a message board recently, “I know those parents are babying that kid.”  Good to know our teachers aren’t rushing to any snap conclusions about their students.

I walk.  I walk a lot.  With my kids, because they refuse to stay home and mop the floors while I am out running errands.   If I can walk somewhere, I do, even though my native Angelino neighbors get in their Escalades to go two blocks and mail a letter.  I like to walk and see no harm in a half-hour jaunt to the playground.  It is more ecologically responsible, good exercise, and frankly less of a hassle than strapping my various progeny into their car seats.

I do, however, think it is a bit much to insist a five-year-old walk a mile-and-a-half each way, in addition to all the running he’ll do once we get there.  Not to mention that I sometimes want to move at an adult pace.  Plus, the kids talk to me less when they are in the stroller.  I’ll do just about anything for ten minutes quiet time.

Of course, sometimes, I just can’t listen to the whining anymore.  I can’t say that I blame him.  If I did karate, t-ball, and swimming several times a week, I’d be tired, too.

I know the day is not far off when he’ll need to rely on only his skinny little legs to get around.  For the time being, however, he remains my stroller junkie.

And I remain his pusher.

17 responses to “Riding along

  1. When my girl was a baby and my boy was six or so he would sometimes sit in the little basket under the stroller with his legs hanging out the back. It still makes me laugh to think of some of the looks and comments we got when he did that. I just figured it was one of those “you do what you have to” situations. If he was in the basket he wasn’t whining and I thought that was a pretty good trade off.

  2. Calvin still rides in the stroller on long walks, though we have lately been working on getting him to ride his bike. Usually that allows him to keep up with my pace. Still, for longer trips he gets tired even on the bike.

  3. “When I see a teacher post a judgemental and fallacious generalization on the message board, I know she’s a bit of an asshat.”

  4. I um still let my five year old sit in the stroller too. Ahem. She is such a dawdler. I can’t even imagine her not some days.

    I draw the line at my seven year old. However, some days I see her eyeballing it. Ha.

  5. I don’t have a double stroller, because I decided I was morally opposed to pushing my ‘big kid’ around. So, at 3 years old, she was walking. And you know what? I regret that decision. It means that I walk much less than I would otherwise, because she’s small and really not up to walking that far at a stretch. Especially not at a reasonable pace.

    You’ll get no judgment from me. Maybe a little envy at your foresight, but no judgment.

  6. That last line is genius. A lot of older kids in NYC stand behind the stroller on those little platforms…not sure what they’re called, or if they’d work on a double stroller, but no one gives them any funny looks!

  7. I would totally have you push me, Em.

  8. I’ve been there. We got a double stroller with our 2nd child. It was an old fashioned aged on pram like springs. It wasn’t very manoeuvreable, one seat in front of the other rather than side to side, but it went through snow like anything. It had gone through numerous families in the neighbourhood and looked it. But my kids loved it and rode in it for at least a year which would have made them 2 and 5. Then we pulled them in a wagon for longish distances until I could no longer pull their weight. They walked plenty. But they rode like queens, too. My kids are now 8 and 11 and they are both active, curious kids who like climbing trees and reading. It’s fine.

  9. My mother-in-law teaches in NYC & she used to think that kids arriving in a stroller was problematic until she started hanging with her twin grandsons & began to understand that sometimes it is to EVERYONE’s benefit to have them strapped in & riding…

    Meanwhile, I often see those stroller attachments for ride-alongs that Lauren refers to above. No one seems to have any issue there so what’s the big difference?

  10. Totally hear you we do the same

  11. I do the same thing. Only Holden, the 3 year old, is my junkie. We tried to cut him off cold turkey but I ended up chasing him all over. Sometimes it’s just easier to strap his butt in.

  12. clever. 😉

    and you’re doing right to ignore the sidelong glances and remarks.

  13. This rocked. It rocks that you WALK, however that can be achieved! I once calculated that all 3 of mine plus the sit and stand stroller meant I was pushing over 120 pounds around… and that is only in the mall, under duress. I’d like to slug the teacher for you.

  14. Mini is also a stroller addict. She whines like a diva “but MOMMY I’m TIRED”. After about a block. Then the next day she’ll walk 2 miles each way without a peep. I’ll go ahead and say it’s not about the exertion. I’d like to be pushed around like a princess too!

  15. We don’t much use a stroller nowadays–mostly because we don’t have a decent one now–and plus she’s light if I need to carry her.

    The longer I’m a mother, the less I judge other people. Sometimes the kid wants to sit. Sometimes I wish someone would push ME. No biggie!