The Galloping Stroller

What is it we will tell our toddlers? Don’t run!

By Renee Phile

One Saturday morning a few Julys ago, Kevin, then around 3 years old, and I decided to walk to downtown Southern Pines. By “walk,” I mean I walked and pushed him in his stroller with one wobbly wheel, a stroller I am pretty sure he had outgrown anyway since his head hit the top and his feet scraped the pavement. Still, he insisted on “taking a wide.” We stopped at the farmers market for some cucumbers, green peppers and tomatoes, and then wobbled on over to our main destination, the park.

Kevin played in the sand, while I parked myself on a bench. An hour or so passed and my stomach started growling. Kevin continuously slid down the big metal slide that stung his legs, since it was so hot. Right after he landed with a thump in the sand, he brushed himself off, ran back up the ladder to the scorching hot slide and started again. After watching him go up and down around 37 times, I decided I was starving, but not enough to break out the cucumbers and green peppers I had in the stroller. I told him he had five minutes, which turned into 17 since he had this ritual of saying goodbye to each part of the park he had come in contact with.

“Goodbye swing. Goodbye yellow slide. Goodbye ’nother swing. Goodbye little slide that goes reaw fast.” After every piece of playground equipment and the sand, yes, the sand, heard Kevin’s goodbyes, I loaded him in the stroller and we started back to our house. We lived probably a mile from the park, so it was a good 15-20 minute walk. Usually good.

After about five minutes, my stomach reminded me that I didn’t have much more time before I turned into an evil, hungry human. I decided to jog and push Kevin’s stroller. After all, I had seen other people run while pushing a stroller. Now, I know his stroller had one wall-eyed wheel and was not an officially sanctioned “running/jogging stroller,” but I still decided to give it a shot. I took off in a trot and he scraped his feet on the pavement — a definite drag on our progress. “Put your feet up, Kevin!” He did for a minute, and I ran, er, jogged the best I could. The stroller was hard to maneuver, but would work OK for a minute before a rock or dent in the road hampered our mission.

“Go faster, Mommy!” the foot-dragger squealed.

At this point, I was feeling pretty good. Confident. Upbeat. I thought I must look really cool to all the cars passing by. Surely they would think, “Wow, there’s a woman running with her son in the stroller . . . in this heat too . . . she must be dedicated . . . wait, why are his feet hanging out like that? Is that a child or a teenager in that stroller? Hmmm . . . awkward.”

Then, I tripped over a rock or maybe a stripe painted on the road, or maybe my own feet. And fell.

HARD.

Face down. On the pavement.

Kevin squealed. The car that just passed us squealed.

“Are you OK?” an extremely handsome military-looking guy yelled out his window.

“Yes, just fine, thank you,” I murmured, utterly embarrassed, avoiding eye contact, pebbles imprinted in my forehead.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, thank you.”

The car sped off and I stood up too quickly and blacked out for a few seconds and sat back down on the pavement again.

“Mommy! What’s wrong?” Kevin cried.

I couldn’t answer or get up for a minute or so. I felt like I was going to throw up, and the trees above me were spinning. I had the stroller whirlies.

Finally, the haze diminished enough that Kevin and the stroller and I could wobble the last half mile back to the house. My ankle and face were killing me and sweet 3-year-old Kevin, clearly a bit traumatized, kept asking if I had died and come back to life — which I eventually did, as a cheese quesadilla.

So, do not think you’re cool running in the summer heat, showing off mad skills you don’t possess with a shaky stroller filled with farmers market vegetables and an overgrown 3-year-old. The hot slide is the cooler option.  PS

Renee Phile loves being a mom, even if it doesn’t show at certain moments.

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