This past weekend we went stroller shopping with some wise parent friends of ours. I was very glad they were there--not only did they keep us from getting completely overwhelmed, they let us borrow their 11-month-old to test drive a few strollers around Magic Beans.
I am still a little in shock over the whole stroller gestalt. It gives a new meaning to the term "curb appeal." Before I got pregnant, I never ever noticed strollers unless they were in my way. What's a stroller anyway except a practical means to transport little kids and their stuff without breaking a parent's back? But no. As I am now learning, strollers are complex, multilayered status symbols and they have much more to do with the parent than they do with the kid.
At Magic Beans, we encountered the Stroller Consultant, a man who asked us lots of questions about where we lived, what we'd use the stroller for (um, pushing the kid around?), and other criteria that should be very, very important to us, like storage. Did we want a stroller that came with a bassinet or not? A stroller that had car seat adaptability? Under-seat storage or rear storage? Plastic vs. rubber tires? Easy brake function vs. easy foldability? And, of course, does it look cool? All of this comes at a premium--the strollers started at $350 and just kept going up in price. The Stroller Consultant tried to up-sell us to the Bugaboo, which is like the BMW of strollers and costs $800 just for the base model. We did not bite.
Once we entered the world of strollers, I started noticing strollers--which I think is kind of like drinking the Kool-Aid. Now, when I see strollers on the street, I find myself scoping them out. What kind is it? Are the parents Bob Revolution people or Phil & Ted people? Did they go Maclaren or Quinny Buzz or UPPA Baby? Were they able to fit everything into their Mountain Buggy or does their Bumbleride look like it might topple over? And what IS the big deal about the Bugaboo, other than the conspicuous consumption factor? I seriously want to know.
I could probably ask--the other thing I recently learned is that the only thing parents love more than pushing their strollers is TALKING about their strollers. Last week I asked a mother about her stroller and, without ever exchanging names, we spoke for almost 20 minutes while her adorable, two-year-old cooed at us from ground-level. It was a new experience, the first of many I'm sure.