“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.
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.