6/03/2011

When I am King: Trips with Kids

When I am King...

Strollers will be banned.

I spent last weekend at Disneyland, for reasons that I won’t go into. Suffice it to say that raising children does not result in opportunities for exciting travel and exotic nightlife.

Besides the obvious joy of spending two days and evenings standing in line with thousands of my very closest friends and overpaying for bad food from perky cashiers, the highlight of the weekend had to be the transportation contraptions for the children.

It turns out that Disneyland is where all children are. The place is overrun. It’s like the Gulag for little political prisoners. I thought my kitchen had an ant problem, but it’s nothing compared to the kids scurrying around Disneyland.

My strongest memory of the experience was of the many strollers. They were everywhere, These handy inventions allow parents to drag their kids to places that they’re too young to appreciate. So where evolution and common sense trains us to know that anywhere the kids can’t get to on their own is not somewhere they need to be, strollers allow us to take them anyway. These wheeled contraptions also serve as modern pack animals, allowing us to store necessary provisions like sodas and snacks to keep us fattened up and further unable to hand-carry these items.

All of this is fine - if people want to bring their infants and toddlers to places that they aren’t old enough to enjoy and won’t remember in 2 weeks and generally make the experience awful for the whole family, that’s up to them. I don’t mind the kids. It’s the strollers that I want to destroy.

Strollers are mobile tripping hazards. They’re like the shoes in the entryway, the toy cars in the kids rooms, the sleeping dog at the top of the stairs. And they’re constantly on the move, shoving their way through the crowds like a miniature Italian driver. The only person not tripping on them is the kid in the driver’s seat. This is probably the real enjoyment that kid has; he can’t enjoy any of the fun rides, but it must be a kick to keep seeing adults jumping out of his way and falling over his moving throne.

Strollers are like the shopping carts of the homeless, filled with recyclable containers and the mostly important possessions of the parents (plus the children). But at least the homeless have the decency to use carts that aren’t tripping hazards; you can heard and see those things rattling toward you for miles. Strollers sneak up on you and stick their front wheels in front of your sneakers before you know they’re there.

Then there’s the other approach taken by parents of children that can walk but can’t be trusted: leashes. These clever devices attach to a harness on the kids and allow they to walk with their parents without the parents having to go to the effort of actually reaching down to take their hand. They’re just like dog leashes, except for the choke collar. Ostensibly, the leashes allow the children the freedom to walk on their own without letting them completely escape. But in practice they’re used very differently. You typically see them being used by people that seem too tired to walk around and are using the energy of the children to help; the kids are straining at the harness and helping propel their parental blobs forward. The other way I’ve seen them used is like fishing tackle - when the parents want the kids closer, they reel them in and land them like a forty pound trophy fish. All they’re lacking is a barbed hook; maybe there’s a catch and release law in effect.

The leashes share a similar tripping characteristic with the strollers. But where the strollers perform their job with the front wheels jutting out in front of your feet, the leashes do so by stringing a trip wire at knee height across a wide distance. On a good catch, a leash can net three or four adults at once.

When I am King, these tripping hazards will be banned. Ideally, we’d return to the sane approach of only taking the little tykes to places where it wasn’t a complete hassle to transport them; if they can’t walk and they’re too heavy to carry, try spending that day at home instead. It’s why television was invented. And duct tape.

But I realize that some parents will insist on carting the little creatures around, so we’re working hard on replacement solutions. For example, there is now a surgical procedure to attach wheels to their feet. So when they complain that they just can’t walk another two miles to that ride with the two-hour waiting line, you can pop the wheels on and drag them.

There are also backpacks available for easily carting children around. These have existed for ages and provide a great solution to the problem, but fights against the tradition that we have of not exerting any effort. So my ministry will make available a Sherpa service to assist you in carting your brood around. Getting young children around the theme park or even the local Walmart can often seem like climbing Mt. Everest, so we’ll provide the appropriate resources for these excursions.

With these new inventions, you’ll be able to take more trips with less trips.
Post a Comment