Yesterday we drove 6.5 hours from the Haute Savoie region of France, through Switzerland to Heidelberg, Germany – making Germany Ayo’s fourth country to visit ex-utero. We stopped frequently for breaks after recently hearing about several children refusing to get back into their carseats as they were cooped up in the car for too long. We stopped for about four hours total between diaper changes, nursing breaks, Ayo’s wake-time and meeting my friends along the way for lunch. (Trips take a bit longer with our sweet boy and I half wish that we could yank him out of his seat to nurse along the way as in mum’s day, but we did all enjoy the breaks in the end.) Shortly after arriving, we headed to the city center for a dinner with 20+ students who had spent a full year studying in this city with Tall Mountain 10 years ago. We met everyone, enjoyed dinner and then, being the curious third culture mama that I am, I did some serious German watching, which included some stroller watching!
Before having kids I never knew how complicated the stroller world was. In fact, I’m not sure I knew there was even a world of strollers. Yes, there is a whole world of them: jogging strollers, umbrella strollers, double strollers side-by-side, double strollers face to face, double strollers child one faces child two’s back, travel strollers, grow-with-your-child strollers, three-wheelers, four wheelers, rubber wheels, plastic wheels, tires…phew! Go to the zoo on a warm day and you will find every single option imaginable on display! Pre-baby, I had never paid attention to the world of baby gear. Well, just when you thought you knew your options, the options and brands are all different again in Europe. After just one afternoon, I could see that many Germans love their infant flatbed / prams (I even saw double-decker flatbed strollers for twins) and that hardly any of the strollers I saw in Heidelberg had plastic wheels, maybe because of the many many cobblestones? While prams are lovely for sleeping babes, when researching strollers we had figured that baby isn’t going to want to lie flat for all that long so we personally opted for the infant carseat snapped into the stroller that ‘grows’ with your child. We wanted a stroller that was a. light, b. could collapse down well and c. be used as a jogging stroller (so, no plastic wheels). We never thought of looking for a narrow model, but thankfully the three wheel B-Agile ended up being fairly narrow because the sidewalks here, if you are lucky to find any, are about as narrow as a diving board!
After an hour of stroller watching on the Hauptstrasse I realized that a. strollers seem to reflect the values of the culture (for example: the German ones being about as solid looking as tanks, the American ones being as spacious as possible and decked out with accessories) and that b. America’s favorite jogging stroller, the B.O.B. would look about as out of place here as a Hummer.