Child labor and the dream stroller
I’ve never really been a keep-up-with-the-Joneses kind of guy. I’ve never needed the hottest shoes, computer or cars. I don’t know if this is a built-in personality trait or whether I learned it from my parents, but the things I need have never been based on what others own.
That is, until I spent a few hours at the Home and Garden Show in Denver.
No, I wasn’t all that enamored with owning a the newest lawnmower that cuts grass while it mixes a tequila sunrise or a $15,000 hot tub complete with pop-up surround sound speakers and flat-screen television.
What I really wanted, the thing that made me ooh and ah, was a stroller. Yes, a baby stroller.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a nice stroller for my daughter. It was a gift from my brother-in-law, and it came equipped with fat tires, an adjustable seat, shock absorbers and a sun canopy – all of which come in handy when walking the circuit around my neighborhood with its washboard and muddy roads.
Even though our stroller resembles two mountain bikes fused together with a baby seat, it doesn’t compare to some of the modes of transportation I saw at the Home and Garden Show.
If you haven’t noticed by now, you can pretty much guess I’ve already joined the parents who will push their strollers wherever they please. For a long time, however, I was embarrassed to even attempt to enter some stores with my shin buster, but at Christmas everything changed.
My wife, baby and I were shopping at Cherry Creek Mall in Denver, and I was waiting outside a store with my stroller parked discreetly off to one side, when I noticed several fathers and mothers squeezing much larger strollers than mine through the door.
They didn’t seem to mind scattering other shoppers like bowling pins before a well-thrown ball.
After that, I’ve pretty much pushed my way anywhere I’ve wanted to go with my daughter laughing as we went bump, bump, bump over other shoppers’ toes.
But I digress.
At the Home Show I saw an incredible variety of strollers. There was one that was three tiers high packed with baby stuff, adult coats and, oh yeah, an actual baby.
My wife also pointed out that this magnificent piece of baby-moving equipment transformed into a car seat, and it ended up being one of my daughter’s favorites.
But not for any reason you might think.
The multi-level stroller was the perfect height so my daughter, held in my arms, could snatch bottled water and snacks from another baby’s supplies. This she did with a stealth normally associated with an accomplished cat burglar.
Then I spotted the stroller of my dreams. First I noticed its knobby wheels. Then the frame caught my eye like a tall, cool blond woman’s S Never mind.
It was smooth and sleek. It had two seats for babies and an ample carrying compartment to hold the hundreds of diapers brought by a father who worries about such things.
But what made this stroller special was the Jeep logo proudly displayed on the side.
I must admit, after seeing this happy family enjoying its mode of transportation go by, well, I turned lime green with stroller envy. But my feelings changed abruptly when I saw who was forced to push this beauty, and I glimpsed the sad, sick, destructive byproduct of the large stroller culture in America.
Its name is child labor.
With all these SUVs for babies in the malls and on the sidewalks, I guess it just never occurred to me someone has to push them to make them go. But it wasn’t until the Home and Garden Show that I discovered their forward power comes from the children that are supposed to ride in them.
I was appalled on more than one occasion to see strollers loaded down with plenty of parental stuff being shoved by young children, their little legs pumping like a plunger in a blocked toilet.
At first, I thought this might be some kind of fluke, but then noticed hundreds, if not thousands of children struggling to push their parents’ gear around the show. About the only thing I didn’t see was tiny leg cuffs chaining each child to his or her stroller.
And if you asked the parents, I’m sure they would claim their child loves pushing a stroller, but I know this is not true. I don’t like pushing one, and I’m big and strong.
So I guess I won’t be buying a Jeep brand anything anytime soon.
I’ll stay away from SUVs and monstrous strollers, and my daughter won’t have to worry about burning herself out pushing my stuff around.
She can save her strength for her soon-to-come dishwashing duties.
Columnist Andrew Gmerek writes on Fridays, that is when he can break away from his stroller, and dish-washing, and start pounding the computer keys.
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