These are two open letters to inconsiderate people. Now that is a LOT of people, so I’d better narrow it down…
Dear people who are inconsiderate of parents pushing prams,
To all of those who see me struggling through a doorway with my pram and do nothing. To those who purposefully step in front of me because I can’t move quickly enough. To those who hog the lowered kerbs by choice when I have none. To drivers who fail to indicate when I’m deciding whether I have time to cross a road. To shops and cafes that I literally cannot enter because the doorway doesn’t allow it. To the supermarket employees who position a discount box in the middle of an aisle that I can no longer fit down. To those who throw dirty looks as I crash and bash my way round a small shop that doesn’t really have room for me.
I am not pushing a pram for fun; I have shopping to get, or a baby who’s exhausted but won’t sleep, or maybe I’m trying to work off some of the flab I piled on during pregnancy. Maybe our family can’t afford a second car. Whatever the reason, I would rather not be pushing an awkward machine in front of me.
I, too, used to float around the pavements, shops and cafes like a leaf blowing freely in the wind. I used to smoothly change direction when I spotted something I liked the look of. I used to ‘pop’ and ‘nip’ to the corner shop or the GP or the dentist or the supermarket.
When I can do, I use the baby carrier. When I can do, I push the pram on the quiet side of the pavement, down the less used path or through the puddle. When I can do, I stay at home and enjoy not being in anyone’s way.
Confession time: sometimes I might stand still or change direction, which is annoying I know. But please remember, this is because I’ve either forgotten or remembered something (my brain no longer works like a normal person’s), I need a break (possibly C-section or stiches recovery, possibly 3 hours’ sleep), or because the baby has started to scream, strain or snooze.
So please, inconsiderate people, take just a second from your fast-paced, flexible, fulfilling day, to think about the needs and difficulties of a frantic, fearful and flustered parent. Hold the door, look behind you, don’t glare, and for goodness’ sake just leave the lowered pavements to us and those who need them!
Dear pram-pushing parents who think they own the pavement,
We see you. We see you, strolling casually through town with no sense of direction or urgency. You have no place to be, no deadline, and can take as long as you wish to eat lunch. Where we are dashing out from work to grab a quick sandwich and a bottle of Lucozade, you are slowly browsing shops and cafes, taking over each venue as you go.
What makes you think you own the pavements? Who told you that you have right of way in a shop? It was your choice to reproduce, and one of the (many) consequences is that you now have to push a pram around.
Don’t get me started on parents who use the baby as a road-crossing shield, weilding the pram like some sort of traffic buffer. Did you even look before crossing that road? Or do you believe that you’ve been endowed with the river-crossing powers of Moses, and that the sea of traffic will somehow part for you?
To those mummies and daddies who like to group themselves together into little gangs of inconvenience, can I suggest that you practise some independence and pop to the shop for milk by yourselves? If one pram is a pain, then two or three is an absolute plague. There, I think we have found the collective noun for a group of pram-pushers.
The rest of the world isn’t asking for much, just to walk the streets without our ankles being bumped, without having to play dodge the baby, and without being nudged, budged and jostled by a screaming infant in a bulky, plastic throne on wheels.
So please, don’t walk down the middle of the pavement, don’t park your buggy in the walkway of cafes, and look before you cross that road!