Mum of three Rebecca Schischa on the perils of wielding a double buggy....
I’m blessed to have three little ones under the age of five. This means that whenever I walk anywhere, I’m nearly always pushing a hefty multi-occupancy vehicle– otherwise known as a double buggy.
I began my life as a member of the double buggy club as an approximately civilised person, taking care to steer the contraption respectfully around fellow pedestrians in my path. A couple of years down the line and I’m a whizz at zigzagging down the pavement effortlessly pushing the machine along with one hand. However, as my buggy skills have improved, I have become an increasingly intolerant human being with a rather severe case of “buggy rage”. Here are the reasons why:
Weirdly enough, passers-by do not realise they are meant to get out of my way when I come hurtling at them with my lean-mean-double-buggy-machine. Worse still, out of spite, I swear, they actually slow down, or stop entirely, JUST in front of my buggy. All types are guilty of this, so it's not limited to a certain demographic: People with inexplicably enormous pieces of luggage, children on scooters, mobile phone conversers, groups of achingly slow-moving tourists, dogs going to the toilet, old folk with walking sticks, OTHER MUMS with buggies, all are culprits.
After innumerable encounters of this kind, I have concluded that they are all out to get me. There's no other possible explanation for this.
Consequently, gone are the days of my meek polite pleas for people to allow me to pass by. I now positively bellow at any offender to EXCUSE ME! And if they don’t move out of my way quickly enough, I confess, I no longer have any qualms about driving my buggy right into their lower calf area. They deserve it, those vile buggy obstructers.
Double buggies and buses #1
Because it’s a large contraption generally piled high with little people, nappy bags, blankets, water bottles, rice cakes and breadsticks flying in its wake, everyone stares when I attempt my acrobatics to get on the bus. You'd imagine all these unencumbered humans would LEAP up to help this hapless mother, wouldn't you? But no, this is how the sequence works: I heave, they stare, I heave some more, they stare some more, and JUST at the point when this one-woman haulage system has successfully levered the buggy onto the bus, one person will finally and verrrry slowly get off their tush and ask me helpfully: "Do you need any help?" Grrrrrr. Thanks but no thanks.
Double buggies and buses #2
Once on the bus, puffing and panting, I still often need to ask, between gritted teeth, for those unbearable people invariably blocking the buggy / wheelchair section of the bus for absolutely no good reason, to kindly move the xxxx out of my way. Cue extreme slow-motion movement from said individuals to vacate the area so I can finally park my buggy and recover from all my exertions.
“Squashed foot syndrome” - double buggy and nap disruption #1
In my family, one occupant of the double buggy has quite long (by toddler standards) legs, and these sometimes hang down off the side of the buggy as she nods off. As every mother of a young child will know, naps are sacrosanct. Double buggies being that bit too wide to be convenient, I often find myself having to steer 'n' squeeze my one through narrow shop aisles, shop doors etc. Unforgivably, I sometimes forget about big baby’s long legs until an all mighty howl emits from the double buggy as she’s rudely awoken from her nap by her lower leg being crushed in a doorway. Terrible mum now gets the punishment she deserves – a child woken prematurely from their nap in a frightful mood for the rest of the day.
“The law of accidentally activated hand dryers” - double buggy and nap disruption #2
If you are lucky enough to find a disabled toilet with doors wide enough so mama with bursting bladder can fit in with double buggy, you will invariably wake up your blissfully napping baba 1 and/or baba 2 by accidentally activating the booming hand dryer as you squeeze your buggy into a corner so you can fit yourself on the toilet bowl. Moany child for rest of afternoon scenario #2.
“You’ve got your hands full!”
People will always say in that gratingly cheerful tone when they see you go by with your double buggy laden down with little folk: “You’ve got your hands full.” Fully expecting me to smile back with gratitude for their kind concern.
If you venture across the Channel with your double buggy in tow, the French will look at you like you are an alien being. Apparently French people space out their perfect one-boy-one-girl nuclear family units so neatly that they never actually need a double buggy. Hence, they stare in pure amazement at the sight of such an unwieldly machine bumping along their quaint cobbled pavements. Last holiday, a group of jolly elderly French folk sitting at a café terrace were gaping as we walked by. Fed up with all those eyes on me, I bellowed out at them in French: “Want a lift?” Luckily, they laughed appreciatively.
Double buggies are for just two children, right? Pah good joke
If you go for the triple blessing of three little ones under the age of 3 / 4 / 5, forget about your double buggy operating to transport just TWO children. Having been so recently a full-time sitting passenger, your oldest will actively resist being ‘demoted’ to walking, and will find a way to hitch a ride, by hook or by crook. Luckily, our double buggy model has a very useful sticking-out front so my firstborn perches there. This means I sometimes feel like those competitors in the ‘Strongest Man in the World’ contest singlehandedly pushing along an impossibly heavy HGV relying on just the strength of my tricep muscles.
But mums, don’t despair, there is one very bright side to life with a double buggy. On the rare moments when you go out with just your smallest baby, pushing a mere single buggy along feels like a blissfully weightless, unencumbered delight. Now that is something to look forward to.