Tanya Enberg: Unexpected Mother


The Stroller Wars: Where Manners Are Being Left At The Door

Move Over! Stroller Coming Through.

Assuming you live in a place where there are babies and toddlers around, there’s a good chance you’ve been knocked off the sidewalk a time or two. Yes, you've come face-to-face with the stroller wars, and it's not pretty. 

Like a game of chicken, coming straight at you is a straight-across line of two or three kids in strollers being pushed by their moms, and they’re not about to give way. With nowhere else to go, you are sent flying into a decorative tree planter perched on the sidewalk. 

Then there are those dinosaur-sized strollers that comfily fit two kiddies side-by-side. Sensing you’re about to get squeezed out, you topple off the sidewalk altogether and onto the road, where you could get flattened by a car. Splat! 

And the moms groups. Oh, don’t get me started on the moms groups. 

I am a mom. I own a stroller. I am involved with several moms groups. And if you think stroller wars don’t exist, think again. 

Recently Globe and Mail writer, John Doyle, argued that the topic of strollers had enough juiciness to warrant its own reality TV series in his article, "Why Stroller Wars: Toronto Should Be a Real Show."

He might be on to something. 

I’ve been flung off the sidewalk by aggressive 'drivers' many, many times. Sometimes I have my child with me, sometimes not. It is always discouraging. Isn’t there a mom code that states just how uncool this is? 

Still, I believe that there is room for us all, and that we have in us the power to share the pavement. 

That many stroller designs are really just too damn big for urban environments is one of the main problems. For those of us living in cramped, overbuilt cities, good etiquette and the sharing of public space is particularly important, as there isn’t that much left to haggle over. 

Another issue is politeness. As we strive to teach our children the importance of good manners and the value of sharing, I sometimes wonder if we’re failing to lead by example. 

Maybe we’re afraid that someone else might get just a little bit more than us. Perhaps we’re too tired and frustrated and sick of pushing strollers through endless dumps of snow to care about the other guy, but we really should. 

Manners, when we remember to use them, make us feel good. And it also means that altruism and civility—not just the human race—has a shot at survival, which results in a far more pleasant place for us all. It is the kinder, gentler way. 

But, in our hurried states, it’s easy to forget to do the simple things, to say, "No, no, after you," and "Pardon me," to remember our please and thanks.

Is anyone else tired of getting shoved out of the way? I sure am. 

Perhaps this hits a nerve, though I mean for it to inspire all of us to take pause and look around at the world outside ourselves, and consider others.

It will take some practice, sure, but we’re already doing that each time we work to educate our children about positive versus negative behaviour, so it really is win-win for us all.   

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