This I Believe

Jason - St. Paul Park, Minnesota
Entered on July 28, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: children

Stroller-Bus Muses

As I returned from lunch to my federal job the other day I came across a group of one-year-olds neatly seated in what appeared to be a plastic bus. I’d seen these things before but never gave them a second thought. Actually, most people in the workforce have probably seen these plastic contraptions that resemble those new and improved plastic Radio Flyer wagons, except on steroids. There’s just something strange about seeing little children in these ubiquitous non-motorized machines. I mean, the kids almost always have an ambivalent look about them; dare I say “unhappy.” As I made my way through the metal detector–thanks to 911– I noticed a group of four kids in one of these things. There they were, just sitting there in all their glory, waiting to be let in to the government facility that I and thousands of others call their workplace. One kid had tears on his face while everyone else just stared blankly ahead at me as I let the security guy scan me for explosives.

I got to thinking about my youngest son Nicholas who is one-year-old. I imagined myself walking up to Nicholas as he is seated there and suddenly seeing his face light up as if he had been waiting all day to see someone he knows. It’s almost as if they are being held captive against their will and they’re not aloud to say anything or else be taught a lesson back at the day-care center. I wonder what’s going through their heads. I wonder if they’re allowed to opt out. I know what would have been going through my oldest son Mateo’s head back in the day–a whopping 2 years ago–and that’s, “I want Mommy.”

Or maybe kids actually get something positive out of their experience in the stroller-bus. Maybe they learn about the complex web of transactions that take place almost constantly throughout the day-maybe that’s why they often appear to be confused; perhaps “information overload” is the optimum term. But I can’t help to wonder if this knowledge or experience is a good thing. What with psychological advances in this modern day, you would think that the use of the stroller-bus would have been endorsed by university researchers at some Big-Ten school. After all, children are smarter, brighter, and more complex than ever before. Maybe it’s the combined results of modern day tools that are attributive to the superiority of today’s children. Of course, one could argue that they have the rest of their lives to learn about the intricacies of the world. Why start so young? Honestly, I don’t even know if this knowledge helps me in my adult years. Or maybe I’m just too Generation X to take advantage of such knowledge. When I was a kid parents and daycare facilitators thought it was a great idea to keep children in playpens all day. When you look at it that way, the stroller-bus doesn’t seem like a bad idea after all.

And regarding the ladies that do the pushing. Maybe they wonder how their lives would have panned out if they had a chance to ride in one of those things. Sometimes I experience these thoughts myself, although I tend to wonder how my life would have turned out if I had the chance to sit in a car seat as a kid; I never had that experience. I don’t even think a car seat would have fit into my father’s 73’ Ford Pinto. But that’s another issue all together.

The strangest thing about all this is you never see people-passersby-making a fuss about how cute they are. Even myself, I look at them and instantly start to think about how subdued they appear to be. Maybe my face looks just as subdued as theirs. What if they are looking at me thinking, “I hope I don’t wind up like that guy in khaki pants and a polo shirt trapped by a cubicle all day?”

Or maybe the stroller-bus is a metaphor for life. As people stare out at one another they have certain thoughts that influence the dynamic between them; good, bad or indifferent.

Of course, daycare is a fact of life. We haven’t used daycare services because my wife stays at home, but you never know what the future holds. Maybe the little girl that we are expecting in November will wind up joining her stroller-bus counterparts in some onerous rides around the government complex.

But, no doubt, it will be interesting to see how the new generation of stroller-bus babies turns out. One thing is for sure…they will have a perspective of the world that is totally different than generations past.