Say, this is my second bus-related post in two days. I’m on a roll! And so are these mothers, who successfully lobbied for strollers to be allowed on Ottawa’s busses.
Honestly, I think if you are a mother taking your kids on the public bus system, you should get all the help you can. I can move my single self travelling elegantly with one small purse either off the bus, or to the back, or what have you. It’s tough enough as a mom to ensure you have everything (extra diapers, change of clothes for baby, snacks, games, books, wetnaps, what else?) forget about being told your child has to be removed and the stroller folded up. That’s the same as telling a mother with a child not to take the bus, in my opinion; a policy put forward by someone who has not hung out with a small child in a very long time.
So good on these moms for making a stand.
Véronique adds: I was going to write a post about why strollers need to be so big these days when I realized that not only had Andrea beat me to the post but I was even behind our commenter Suzanne.
So Suzanne, since you ask, let me tell you why strollers have to be so big nowadays. It’s both simple and complicated, obvious and convoluted. While things have been getting better since I had my first child 13 years ago, we do not live in a child-friendly world yet. And so when going places with young children, one must be as self-sufficient as possible, carrying diapers, wipes, change of clothes, snacks, baby seat for the restaurant, toys, beverages, bottle warmer and so on. Not only that but once you have packed all these essentials, you still need to have room for the stuff you are purchasing, e.g. groceries etc. Because no matter how much you struggle, you will be lucky if you get more than disapproving glances from passerbys. Finally, the big swivel wheels are necessary not only to navigate through rough terrain such as sidewalks and steps, but also for one-hand manoeuverability. Because when you struggle to get two kids, a stroller and the groceries through a narrow door, you will be lucky if your fellow citizens don’t bodycheck you to get ahead, let alone holding the door for you. As for helping you, they didn’t slam the door in your face, what are you complaining about? In these circumstances, the stroller becomes an extension of your home where you can safely change, feed and rest the baby without expecting help from anyone.
Interestingly enough, shopping malls and restaurants in the suburbs — where people are largely dependant on cars to eat, sleep and breathe — are relatively child friendly. But when you venture downtown, as I often do, and try to eat in non-chain restaurants while shopping in boutiques, you need to be self-sufficient. I was shopping on Bank street in Old Ottawa South a month ago and couldn’t even get in the breastfeeding clothing store with the stroller because of the steps. Then I went to eat at the Thai restaurant where not only didn’t they have a children’s menu or a high chair, but they couldn’t even accommodate my 3 year-old son when I asked for a small bowl of rice with some chicken. “You’re a thai restaurant, you have rice?” “Yes.” “You have chicken?” “Yes.” “Can you bring rice with chicken?” “No.” So next time, I’ll be shopping with my baby carrier — in case I need to leave the stroller at the door; my collapsible booster seat — in case they don’t have a high chair; my baby and toddler’s meals — in case there is nothing on the menu for them. And so on. I’m carrying all my gear in a gas-guzzler but the requirement for self-sufficiency wouldn’t change if I had to take the bus.
Andrea adds: For proof that Véronique is absolutely correct, see the comments on the CBC story I linked to. (The CBC! These are ostensibly the compassionate lefties!) The vast majority are crusty childless folks complaining about how now that these mothers have won this battle their sense of entitlement will only grow. Excuse me? I was actually alarmed as I scrolled through those comments. Do I truly live in a city where people complain because some young mom is struggling to get somewhere on the bus? Don’t you think if she could possibly afford it she’d prefer to take a car? I find the comments absolutely, mind numbingly callous.