July 06, 2006

Slowed Down

Another reason I never wanted kids is because they slow you down in more ways than one. I attended the Taste of Chicago this past holiday weekend, and also allowed myself to be talked into going to see the annual fireworks show downtown. My stepmother, niece and I were nearly sidewiped and ran over several times by people with kids in strollers, carriages or Red Flyer Wagons.

What irritated me was that it was clear that most of the kids could walk, yet their parents opted to push them around. Parents seem to baby their kids these days way longer than they should. If the child is disabled, I can certainly understand the need for a stroller. But a healthy five year old can make it under their own power.

I walk fast out of habit. When I was a kid, my mother had no patience for any of us kids poking along. I was reminded of that when my 18-year old niece complained about walking for several blocks while we were trying to locate the house of one of my aunts a few days ago. My niece lives in a small town where you must have a vehicle to get around or you can't go anywhere. She is used to being chauffered around by family and friends whenever she needs to go somewhere. I did not grow up with a car in the house, so I know nothing about that experience.

My mother never learned how to drive, and she considered a car to be an unnecessary expense. In Chicago, you can easily do without a car due to the vast public transportation system. However, public transportation does not offer door-to-door service like a car does. It's usually another few blocks when you get off the train or the bus before you get to your destination. My niece was at least several feet behind me most of the time, while I marched along, having long ago gotten used to walking 5, 10 or more blocks to get to destinations.

We never made it to my aunt's house. After about seven blocks of walking, I figured out that we had passed the house, but my niece kept complaining about being hot and tired. I really wanted my niece to meet my mother's sisters, since she had not before. However, she was not going to walk back, and was eager to find a bus to go back to my stepmom's house.

My mother would have snapped, and demanded that she make the trek back. She would have had to keep up, as well. Ma had no qualms about letting any of the kids know that we were always in her way as it was. "Walk up or the next time, I'll leave your ass at home!" she would bark, followed by our arms being yanked or a shove in our backs. I'm a little more patient, so I gave in to my niece's request to give up the search for the house.

However, the next time my niece comes out to visit me, I'll insist she wear tennis shoes instead of flip flops.

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Tiara Lynn said...

I'm in Chicago as well, and it's interesting to see the difference between the locals with kids and the tourists. You can always spot the locals, carrying their little ones strapped to themselves or in a reasonably sized stroller, understanding the dynamic of the place. Then there are the double-wide strollers with everything the child could ever concevably need strapped in there, along with a 6-pack cooler and a fold-out sofabed or something. What ever happened to backpacks, or a reasonably sized bag with just the essentials?! And forget using the stroller parking lots provided by many of the local attractions -- how can they leave the stroller in the lot if they have their entire life strapped to the thing?!

And if they knock me in the ankles with their giant stroller? Clearly my fault for not clearing the way. Ask them to please watch the ankles and you get the Entitlement Mom Sneer(tm). I understand it's important for people to get outside with their kids, but a healthy respect for everyone else never hurt anybody.

Robin said...

I too think many parents baby their children and I think I even posted on my site about it once. I just think they go overboard and when the kids go out in the real world it's going to be a lot scarier for sure.

p.s. I walk fast too but I think I just have shorter legs than everyone and have to catch up all the time.

Teri said...

My husband and I are constantly amazed at all the paraphernalia (now there's a $5.00 word) that parents have to lug around in order to travel with their children. That would drive me crazy. That's why we have SUVs I guess. To pick on my in-laws for a moment, our nephew (who will remain anonymous) is not a good walker. I've seen him in action (in-action) on hikes. I think he is going to be a book worm when he grows up. His mom carries all the stuff to attend to him, and that pack is heavy. I know, I offered to carry it once (big mistake!). If you gave that little guy his own smaller one to distribute the load, we wouldn't get to go at all. That's just his personality and his age. Kids are a handful for sure and you gotta have the gear.

ChrisR said...

Thanks for the chuckle. You reminded my how much my mother used to hate walking with me. Not only do I stride out, but my legs are about a mile longer than hers!

The world definitely divides into walkers and non-walkers though, doesn't it?

I regularly get incredulous comments that I actually walked to something! Ye gods.

Well if you're broke or your car's broke or if your town's public transport ain't great or the weather's good ... yeah, I walk. Revolutionary, I know.