I will start by saying I am most definitely not a mother; at least not yet at this time in my life. However, I do work in the hospitality field in Orlando and therefore get to see many families that are on vacation each year. My friend John once pointed out to me a child that one would assume is much too large to ride in a stroller still and ever since then I have been noticing just how often I see this. I am aware that there is not a handbook that is distributed for stroller etiquette, as if there is I would clearly not get hit by them so often walking through the theme parks here in town, but I do wonder at what point do parents put their foot down about stroller usage. One parent in the Mothering.com community posted the following rules as to when a stroller should stop being used:
-he grows to big to fit in the seat,
-his legs grow long enough to drag the ground,
-he learns to propel the stroller on his own, or
-he decides he would prefer to walk than ride.
In my world those don’t seem like bad suggestions. It is understandable that each child is different and therefore there is no specific age set in stone to stop using a stroller. In all of these instances I am discussing children who are not facing any type of disability. With Give Kids the World right down the street I am very accustomed to seeing their sweet faces in strollers and small wheelchairs, but this is specifically aimed at children who have no limitations. Cafemom.com even did a poll to find out when most people have decided to do with their kids. Their poll results uncovered the following:
Question: What age did you stop using a stroller?
1 year old: 0%, 2 years old: 27%, 3 years old: 34%, 4 years old: 10%, 5 years old: 3%, Other age: 24%
Out of 29 voters it seems like the most common answers were between two and three years old. However, here in Orlando you can walk through any of the major theme parks on any given day of the week and see large quantities of 8, 9, even 10 year old children in strollers. They are easy to identify by their feet dragging on the ground and the way they are hunched down to even fit under the canopy for shade. Granted sometimes you can see a younger sibling in toe and therefore you can understand why the stroller was originally brought to the theme park, but usually there are no younger siblings in toe and only an older child directing his or her parents around from their royal stroller seat.
This trend is one that I am having extreme difficulty understanding. I grew up as an only child so I’m not used to having anyone younger than me in tow on outings, but I don’t remember being in third grade and still utilizing a stroller because I just didn’t want to walk. Is this a sign that parents are giving in to their children so as to keep the complaining to a minimum on family trips? Or is this one of the many items that is contributing to childhood obesity? Taking a look at TooBigForStroller.com you’ll see many of the photos that author Laura Miller has collected that demonstrate exactly what we see daily here in the theme parks. Although many may find her points to be way off the mark, I can’t help but agree with her about how funny a sight this is. It seems as if pediatricians might be on her side while they say that it could be a disservice to growing children to use strollers well past toddlerhood, but obviously there are parents out there that disagree.
Since I know many of my friends have children (obvious by looking at my Facebook news feed about first steps, first foods, and the lack of adults in most profile photos) maybe one of them will be able to explain this to me. This isn’t the first time I have brought up this topic so it’s apparent that I am really hoping to understand this, so please feel free to let me in on your opinions and feel free to start a parental debate on the subject so those of us not yet parents can understand.