Stroller Reflections: How We Used to Roll

June 22, 2017: Farewell day for the City Mini. | Photo by Josh Rogers

BY JOSH ROGERS | I have an anniversary this week, but no one’s going to be upset that I almost forgot. Wheels don’t have feelings, and the special moment was by a dumpster.

For many guys (yes, and for some women), “wheels” mean a car. But after my childhood Matchbox car collection (which my children sometimes play with at my parents’ home), the real thing never had much interest for me beyond being an important mode of transportation that I know far too little about.

In more recent years, the “new models” meant strollers to me. I used to turn and look when I saw an unfamiliar one going by. I remember walking half a block out of my way only to see my interest was piqued by a stroller only big enough for a small dog. I was more excited than I should have been when our beloved Baby Jogger City Mini Stroller came out in purple and blue, but not so excited to dump our dirty red stroller, which I’m pleased to say lasted (just barely) for both my son and daughter, now 8 ½ and 4 ½.

The dumpster moment of throwing away our strollers does not rank as among my most special, but it was a milestone. We had stopped using it with our girl for at least a few months. As it turned out, the children’s age difference (just under 4 years) worked out, stroller-wise. My son had pretty much given it up when she was born, and his red ride stayed hidden on the terrace until she was big enough to use it. Despite whatever my shortcomings as a parent may be, I am proud to say my kids were willing to walk good distances at a young age.

When my daughter took it over, we might have sprung for the $70 attachment allowing my son to stand — but technically he was over the weight limit, even though he is not at all too heavy. (The stroller companies have a captive market on accessories, and there’s a fortune to be made by anyone who can design lower-priced sibling stands, rain covers, or utility compartments compatible with different brands.)

Ah, our City Mini! My wife and I spent more time deciding on a stroller than on any other purchase. We didn’t really argue, we just deliberated a lot. Many people buy a house quicker. It’s not the best in every category — clearly models like the top-line Bugaboo (a brand whose popularity apparently exploded when it was implicitly endorsed by a future gubernatorial candidate, Cynthia Nixon, on “Sex and the City”) give a smoother ride for potholes and have a wider range of viewing positions for the child. But the others are also big and not as easy to fold as the Mini, which is best known for being able to fold with a simple, one-handed pull. I didn’t end up using this feature as much as I thought I would, but it did help at elevator-less subway stations (grrr!), when I could hold the stroller with one hand and my child in the other while walking down the stairs.

The author’s children, a few years ago, with store samples while on line at Trader Joe’s. | Photo by Josh Rogers

The other big difference between the smoothest operators and the City Mini is price, now roughly $1,200 vs. $260. But we would have invested more in something we used every day if it could have filled more of our needs. We paid just over $200 online on Black Friday 2010, at the time, the only day of the year Baby Jogger discounted its products.

By all appearances, our stroller gave a fairly smooth ride, and, unlike others, was narrow enough for smaller NYC stores. A bulky, super-smooth ride would’ve made us also buy a sturdy, everyday umbrella stroller for times we wouldn’t have wanted to lug the big one out and about. The one pleasant surprise that I overlooked in our deliberation was that I could push our choice easily with one hand, at least when it wasn’t loaded with groceries.

Storing groceries, toys, and other things is the only thing I miss about strollers. It’s nice to have two less things to clutter our apartment even more.

While we were thinking about our son’s permanent ride, my wife bought a $20 umbrella stroller to take him to the Meet the Breeds dog event when he was nine months (we had Chicco car seats and Snap-N-Go strollers for both when they were infants, also good choices). The inexpensive stroller was another good decision, as we used it mostly in airports for both kids. The umbrella also left the house last June.

Both strollers were on their last legs when we were done, but perhaps the scrap metal was used to help another toddler. It was only a little hard saying goodbye. It was the wisest $220 I ever spent.

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