Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Stroller Snubbed

A while back I had written about my stroller being stolen off my porch. It was one of those mid-range Graco travel strollers. I hesitate to say "mid-range," because the stroller retails for around $300 (with the infant carrier/car seat attachment as pictured). A kindly soul, whom I met via this blog, quickly offered a stroller she was no longer using. I was floored by her generosity.

It turns out it's exactly the same stroller as the one we had, only the colour is lighter and it has a stubborn wheel that won't turn. Her daughter being older, the stroller has seen more use and has a few more latte stains than mine had time to acquire. Clearly neither of us seemed to heed the warning label, "To avoid burns, NEVER put hot liquids on this tray." (Soulmates!) It's a fantastic (and FREE) replacement for the one that was given to us as a gift by my MIL and SIL, and stolen by pathetic crackheads.

If you live in an urban area, you've clearly seen the influx of the designer stroller. Bugaboo, Zooper, Peg Perego, Quinny. They range from $400 to upwards of $1000 Cdn. Yes, they can turn into more positions than Madonna and weigh less than Nicole Ritchie on a meth binge. Whoopdee-fucken-doo! Perhaps I'm being a hater because I can't afford one. Well, I guess I could shell out, but there are more fun things I'd rather drop a grand on, like a plane ticket to Greece or a new porch. I can't justify paying so much for something that's basically outgrown by the age of three.

Who's looking at your stroller anyway? Its primary function is to push your kid's ass around until he can walk sufficiently by himself. After that it's used as a back up for sleepy toddlers and then sits in your basement to be taken out should baby #2 come along. In some mommy circles, however, the stroller has usurped the handbag as the must-have accessory by which other women are judged.

A week ago, Nate and I took of advantage the spring-like conditions by taking a three hour walk through The Beaches. The Beaches, just "The Beach" to locals, is an ultra-yuppy with hippy vibe area of Toronto. The Dog used to sing a twisted song with a creepy tune as we walked along its boardwalk: "Kids and dogs and moms and vans. Here we are in Pleasantville." There are three Starbucks within a short mile stretch of residential Queen St E. The Beaches boasts a dog bakery, several upscale kids' and lifestyle stores, and a couple bargain stores in between, for good measure. In the summer, between the dogs and the strollers and the suburban tourists, one can barely move along the sidewalk.

I like going there with Nate because it's a 15 minute walk from our working-class-flavoured hood into more glamorous shops and scenery. On this particular day, Nate fell asleep in the stroller and I took the opportunity to grab a chai latte and a newspaper at the 'Bucks to savour some sorta-alone-time. Two blonde, peppy moms followed behind me with their fancy wheels. I smiled at them, because that's what you do when you have a kid. You suddenly see others in your situation and you give them "the look." The look says, "Hey, I'm going through this too. I feel ya dawg."

My look of sista-mutha recognition was met with a glance at the stroller followed by a look of disgust. The beeyatch totally gave me cut-eye. I buried myself into the paper until Nate awoke. But my mind raced. Did I steal their regular seat? Did they recognize my face as someone who fucked one of their exes? Did I take the last organic blueberry bar? We made a hasty exit, adding yet another chai stain to Nate's ride.

As we walked back towards home along Queen East, I continued with my eye-contact/smile mission. Could I even get one of these Beaches Bitches to say hello? Nope. A look at the stroller and then a quick glance away -- every time. When I reached Coxwell Ave, with its mullet-sporting, Nevada ticket-ripping, cigarette smoking moms and dads, I breathed a sigh of relief at the lack of pretension. Then a bird shit on me. By the time I hauled the stroller up the porch steps, I was completely deflated.

"You're over-reacting," said my sis on the phone. "There is no way that this idea of yours is true. It's too ridiculous." Maybe she was right. I needed another opinion.

The next day at the farm, I recounted the story for Mommy M. Before I could finish, she blurted, "It's because you have a Graco and not a Bugaboo." Aha! Validation! I was not crazy. I was stroller snubbed.

Being an only child, Mommy M totally gets my need to have people like me. "I saw a Peg Perego at Value Village," she offered. "I'll check it out tonight and email you." Still reeling from being dissed, this idea made complete sense. Turned out, the used stroller was only $14.99, but in rough shape. Mommy M quickly outlined the points that also weighed heavily on me.

"Will it still garner the disdain of the Beaches Bitches because while it may be a Peg, it's still not a Bugaboo?"

"Will you mortally offend the generous friend who cheerfully donated a stroller in your time of need simply because of the *whispers* Graco problem?"

"Do you need the project of fixing up an old beast just to *whisper* pass?"

That settled it. I am not a competitive parent and I refuse to be bullied due to retail prejudice. I don't think my kid is better than yours or vice versa. I don't need him to be a genius. I'll be perfectly content if he's plain ol' average. I don't think designer gadgets and fancy classes can beat the intense love of any plain ol' mother. And I don't need the Beaches Bitches to be my friends. There's more to me than my stroller. If they can't see past the wheels into my son's ginormously beautiful eyes, or the friendly smile of his cool mother, fuck 'em.

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