I read 2 articles that got me thinking.
The first one was found in the local newspaper today.
This woman, a Miss Tan Lin Neo, found it necessary to write to the papers about prams or strollers taking up space in the train during peak hour, saying it could be a hazard during emergency. She also stated that “there should be a designated space for prams that exceed a certain size, much like the wheelchair areas in some cabins”, and double strollers should not be allowed in the train. She said that “Prams should be for babies; there is no need for a double-seater to accommodate their older siblings, who may be toddlers capable of walking on their own.”
I had tons of thoughts when I read this fairly short article because I take the train with Phoebie in her stroller very frequently.
Firstly, well, she is a Miss, so I’m guessing she doesn’t have kids. And so, she probably wouldn’t understand the difficulty in bringing a child to take public transport.
Secondly, if you ask me, folding the strollers and putting them at a designated spot in the train would cause more danger in inconvenience. If there is more than one stroller in the same cabin, how should the strollers be arranged? Whose responsibility will be it if the train comes to a sudden halt and the strollers roll off, hitting other commuters?
Thirdly, I certainly know how difficult it is to keep a toddler seated in the train. The toddler is most likely curious and would want to stand on the seat (if there is a seat in the first place) and look out the window, or try to get off the seat and want to stand like everyone else. Having the toddler strapped in the stroller secures the toddler in a place where she is unable to cause unnecessary danger to other commuters in a non-emergency situation. As far as how I go, I always lock the wheels of the stroller down, so the stroller will not roll for no reason.
Designated areas in the train for strollers are not going to work because, as it is, during peak hour, the whole world wants to squeeze into the train and not many people care what the area they stand on is designated for.
As for the writer expecting toddlers not be using strollers, perhaps she should try carrying the toddler after she walks for 30 minutes and say she is tired and no longer wants to walk.
If we are just a little more gracious, a little tolerance goes a long way. The parent with the stroller has every right to take the train during peak hours, just like everyone else.
Lifts in train stations have signs that tell people to give way to wheelchairs, strollers and the elderly. Yet almost every time I take the lift at train stations during peak hours, people who get off the train from the cabin nearest to the lifts tend to crowd the lobby. They squeeze in the moment they can get into the lift, and a lot of them simply cut the queue just as I move the stroller back to let others come out from the lift. So many times, I feel like telling them off, but most of the time, I resign to keeping quiet, telling myself that maybe these people are not feeling well and they really need to take the lift instead of the escalator.
So how about some grace for parents with strollers too, Miss Tan Lin Neo?
The second article I read today is a rather long one.
I really thank Matt Walsh for writing this because it absolutely hits home with how I feel.
Children are not as “controllable” as some people think. They have moods, and the moods can change without warning. When the mood suddenly takes a downturn, parents cannot simply change the mood at the snap of a finger.
I remember so many times with Phoebie suddenly deciding to melt down and I get dagger-stares from strangers as they walk past us. No, I didn’t want the meltdown, but no, I’m also not going to give in to her demands just because she has a meltdown in public.
It’s not just during meltdowns that we get stared at. Phoebie is a very friendly child, very friendly. She likes to say hi to pretty much everyone and anyone we meet. She will wave at a man sitting across from her in the train, she will say hello to an old lady she sees in the lift. And she will keep saying hi, repeating until she decides she has said hi enough. That is the friendly child in her. Not everyone appreciates the repetition of “hi” she likes to say. I try to explain to her that saying hi once is enough and some people do not like to be disturbed, but Phoebie doesn’t always get it. So I let her be, be the friendly child that she is.
She likes to share her talent of singing in public. Typically, I try to tell her to sing softly, explaining that some people may want to rest while travelling on the train or bus. Phoebie tries her best to sing softly, but of course, what she thinks is soft isn’t exactly the universal adult definition of soft. And often, she sings “softly” for a while and then forgets about volume control as she sings more passionately. She is simply being a child, and while I know some people simply want silence when they travel, it is really not easy to shush her without letting her be a child. I don’t want her to think that being a child is wrong, because it isn’t.
So, really, children are not as controllable as some non-parents think. I stop turning to look at crying or screaming children in buses, trains and restaurants after I became a parent. Because I know the parents are probably already exhausted, on top of being embarrassed.
Perhaps, non-parents, you’ll understand when you become a parent.