In today’s baby- and child-obsessed world, parents feel like the world ought to revolve around their children. A friend recently e-mailed me after a torturous trip to her local Hy-Vee store, where they mollycoddle children with giant race-car shopping carts. “They hog the aisle,” she said. “Why do we have to indulge these families who are trying to make the kids think they’re at Disneyland?”
Why, indeed. I don’t know about you, but trips to the grocery store are at the bottom of my list of fun. I want to make my way through the store and get out in the shortest time possible. To facilitate this, I always shop with a list when I have more than four or five items, and my list is organized by the layout of the store.
It’s bad enough maneuvering around the groups of slow old people, who stand in the middle of the aisle looking at every every item 1 inch from their faces trying to read the package and figure out what the fuck is. It’s painful enough to have to deal with screeching and screaming children sitting in regular shopping carts. Now we have to deal with these enormous shopping carts taking up entire aisles so your frickin’ kids can think the grocery store is fun?
When we were little kids, my mother went to the grocery store in the evenings — by herself. Even though it was a chore, the fact that she could enjoy some child-free time by herself made it not so bad. And frankly, my brother, sister and I hated the grocery store, with its small toy section that never had any fun toys, just cheap crap that would break after 10 minutes of play. It became boring walking up and down the aisles, mostly filled with food we considered “grody.” Then, when we’d finally get to the good aisle — the chips and cookies aisle — Mom usually said no to the stuff we wanted or opted for the healthy crap like graham crackers. Frankly, she came home with more goodies and treats when she went to the store by herself. So for Mom to go to the grocery store without us in tow was perfectly fine by us.
The fact is that kids don’t enjoy trips to the grocery store. That’s why some idiot thought it would be an ingenious idea to design a huge race-car shopping cart to add some fun for kids. Never mind the majority of adults in the store who don’t want to be hampered by your giant race-car shopping cart with your kids screeching, “Vroom, vroom. Vrooooooom!” throughout the store.
I’ve had my own experiences with parents who don’t know their children’s place and insist on accommodating them to the discomfort of everyone else in the vicinity. My experience is most often at the Omaha Farmer’s Market in the Old Market district.
I love the farmer’s market. It runs from late spring until mid-October, and it’s a fun experience. You find all sorts of novel items — homemade mustard, hand-made goat cheese, local honey, unique jewelry and home items — along with fresh fruits and veggies. Street musicians are scattered throughout the area — it’s just a great environment on a Saturday morning. It’s a small space, though, and the stands are crammed together with narrow walkways in most areas.
When we were kids, my mother had this slim stroller called an umbrella stroller. A Google search revealed that this style of stroller is still available, although some manufacturers have seen the need to make them bulkier than they were intended to be. These strollers are great for a mom on the go because they are lightweight and fold up compactly. They’re also great for the people around you because they don’t run over everything in their way and you can actually see where you’re pushing the stroller.
Umbrella strollers are obviously the wise choice for parents who feel the need to bring their little kids to the farmer’s market. Not in Omaha, though. Oh, no — parents here bring their big-ass deluxe-style strollers that take up entire walkways and with which they run over the heels of anyone within a foot of their path. It’s as though the size of your kid's stroller is some kind of status symbol around here.
Every time I go to the farmer’s market, some idiot parent runs over my heel with their humongous stroller. One time, after a father had smacked my heel twice with his kid’s stroller, I turned around and said in a pissy tone, “Are you gonna try for three times with that thing?” Rather than apologize, he had the audacity to make some smart-ass comment about how I was a bitch, and I turned on him and told him to leave his fucking stroller at home next time since he obviously can’t drive the thing.
Last weekend I was at the farmer’s market and someone had a gigantic stroller that was not only wide, but I swear the bassinet of this thing came up to my chest. It was the biggest stroller I’ve ever seen. And the woman pushing it just barreled right through the throng of people, forcing everyone in her way to back up or try to become one with the wall of the building along the sidewalk. No apology for hogging the sidewalk, no look of shame for being rude to tens of people. Nope, she just hauled ass through there like it was her right because she’s a breeder. Just another way that child-free people get the shaft for making the decision not to reproduce.
I’ll admit, I’ve been driven to rudeness by the rude behavior of stroller pushers. I’ve been known to, when surrounded by three or more strollers, come to a dead stop, look at the person who’s with me and say loudly, “You know what I hate? Strollers in teensy-weensy crowded spaces ... LIKE THE FARMER’S MARKET.”
It’s a matter of common sense and consideration for others, folks. Many of us are child-free by conscious decision, and we don’t want to, nor should we have to, be burdened by your children when we go to places like the farmer’s market or the grocery store (or a restaurant, or Target or anywhere else that’s not actually designed for unruly children). The least you could do is show some consideration for the people around you.