No kindergartner rides to school in a stroller. That’s what we told our daughter last summer, in a desperate attempt to shame her into walking. Cue a Rocky-style training montage complete with red-faced grunts, tears, and anguished cries. And then!—“incentives” like popcorn and (ha!) new shoes. Step by painful step, she managed to work her way from zero to .7 miles. By the time fall rolled around, she was ready.
10 weeks old: acceptable.
And guess what? We were right: no one rides to kindergarten in a stroller. They ride in cars. Now, we live in a geographically compact neighborhood of Portland. Every kid lives within a mile of the school. While I’m glad we finally Rocky-trained Audrey to walk to and from school every day, I can’t help but rail against the stigma “advanced stroller riders” face in this car-centric world.
There’s even a website devoted to making fun of bigger kids in strollers: toobigforstroller.com. Too Big for Stroller: Why Carting Your Big Kids Does a Disservice, an ABC article published last year, discusses the website’s popularity and cites experts who claim that stroller-riding kids will never develop their muscles or imaginations if they’re pushed around past the age of two or three. Please. I don’t understand why giving a child a daily stroller ride to run errands is so damaging, but chauffeuring them around in cars is never mentioned.
Age 4: Unacceptable!
Yes, it would look funny to see someone push a kid to school in a stroller—but why? Environmentally, it’s certainly better to push the kid that half mile in a stroller than to drive him in a car. And at least the parent is getting a workout, even if the kid is kicking back like a little prince.
Now that we’ve retired the stroller, we take public transportation to places I used to walk. (Audrey still hates walking, never managing more than 1.5 miles in a single day.) It seems wasteful to ride a bus to get somewhere a mile or two from our house. It costs more, it damages the planet, and it takes longer. And no one bats an eye. No one posts a picture of us and posts it on a site called walkinsteadoftakingthebus.com. Experts don’t swoop in to chastise me for letting her lazily ride on public transportation.
Driving a half mile in a car: perfectly normal.
I’ll admit it: I wish it were socially acceptable to push my almost-six-year-old around in her stroller. I miss the walking.
P.S. If you want to avoid my sad fate, try Carfree with Kids for tips on How to Raise a Walker and pray for a robust child!