Weighing in on the strollers on the TTC debate

Flora's First Subway Ride
She slept through her entire first subway adventure.

My daughter was born in early September of 2008. I knew that it was a good idea to get used to traveling with her while the weather was still good. I wanted to get used to traveling with a baby and all the Stuff a baby needs before it got too cold. I didn’t want to look out the window longingly and feel even more housebound than I already was.

As a city dweller with one car between my husband and I, that meant I had to learn to navigate public transit with Flora. If I wanted to go anywhere on the days my husband took the car to get to work, I had to figure out how to do the subway. I wasn’t going near the bus when she was super small.

The picture over there is of Flora’s first subway ride. She was about a month old. That’s why she’s in one of *those* strollers. She was too small to sit up in the stroller seat so her car seat attached to the top so she could travel safely and I could bring the various stuff a baby needs in its constantly-hungry-or-leaking phase.

I planned this trip to get a couple of things done. I was canceling my membership in the Metropass Discount Plan because I wouldn’t be TTCing much while I was off work. That’s why we’re at Davisville. (Taking a stroller to the TTC head office – I hope someone did that this week.) Then we were off to visit Sean at work up near Mel Lastman Square. So a couple of stops and a long-ish subway ride to and from Warden Station.

I had planned for my trip to be done well outside of rush hour. I wanted to be considerate of other riders, especially since this wasn’t a time-sensitive errand. I know it’s hard to navigate around a stroller – I’ve done it too. So I did my best to take up as little space as possible and get out of the way of other people. I mostly succeeded, and I don’t remember getting any stinkeye from other passengers.

This was not the largest stroller on the market, nor was it the smallest. It was reasonably affordable (and a gift from Grandma to boot), held up for all of Flora’s stroller-needing years and I am grateful I had it.I did my best to be mindful of the people around me no matter where I was so I wasn’t crowding them or blocking their way. No one ever yelled at me, so I hope I succeeded.

Flora and Mummy at City Hall
This was taken at a stroller march held in 2009 to support the need for childcare in Toronto. This stroller got me through many daycare pickups and some dropoffs on the TTC.

When Flora got bigger (as in over six months, but under twelve months old, so still a baby), I knew I needed to get a smaller, more portable stroller. While our plan was to have Sean drive her to and from daycare, we knew that sometimes I would have to do the daycare run via TTC.

The days we knew I would have to pick her up, Sean would bring the stroller when he dropped her off and I would bring her home on the bus in it. When the bus would come, I would pick the stroller up to get her on the bus and wheel the stroller to the best spot to be out of the way of the most people. That spot was different every time depending on how people were sitting on the bus.

I was lucky that I was going against the flow of traffic at that time of day so most buses going to my place from my daycare provider’s home weren’t too busy. Still I did my best to be watchful and get out of people’s way.

Morning dropoff on the bus was less fun. There were several routes that went by my stop, but at least two went past a nearby highschool. Taking Flora to daycare on those buses meant getting on a standing room-only bus with a stroller. I was a cliché and I hated it. I did my best to get Flora and I the hell out of the way. I didn’t have far to go on the bus – I got off before the highschool kids, so I felt even more like an jerk when I had to pull the cord and wheel my kid precariously off the bus, apologizing the entire way.

I was relieved when Flora was walking well enough that I could stop using the stroller for doing dropoff and pickup on the TTC. I was paying a fare for her by now and she could have her own seat without guilt. I was even more relieved when Sean and I would park the car at Kennedy or Warden station and I would just take the subway to my car, then pick her up. It was just so much less hassle for me, even if Flora enjoyed the bus.

I was lucky. I lived close to two subway stations that had parking. My daycare provider lived less than fifteen minutes away from us and was easily accessible by car or transit. Not everyone is that lucky. Until the TTC’s coverage is more evenly spread throughout the entire city (and not just downtown), people will cobble together solutions that work for them.

I don’t live in Toronto anymore, but I still work there and use the subway five days a week to get to work. I also don’t have a baby anymore, but a little kid. As a TTC user, this issue affects me. Public transit is for everyone and that includes those who have to ferry small children around.

A note for those who want to say just wear your baby.

Flora in the wrap
I wore Flora plenty too.

I took short and medium-sized trips on the subway with Flora in a wrap and no stroller. It’s okay for the first bit, but doing errands that way is tricky at best. I can’t imagine doing a trip from let’s say, north Scarborough to downtown with a six month-old strapped to me, diaper bag on my arm, and possibly another child beside me. I’m just not that much of a masochist. I loved babywearing and I did it regularly. Babywearing was way better for our walks to the library over deep snow drifts, walking the dog and trips where I just didn’t want to bring a big stroller along. It’s not so good for trips where you’re going to end up carrying lots of other things besides your baby.

I believe that the issue of strollers on the TTC would be less of a hot button if all TTC riders just behaved a little better in general. We all have to get where we need to go. Don’t be a jerk, whether you’re commuting to work, daycare, or whatever it is you do with your time.

For other opinions on this issue, you should read these thoughtful blog posts:

 

Best of: my favourite posts on hellomelissa.net

If you are new to hellomelissa.net, this page will lead you to some of my favourite posts on the site. There’s over fifteen years of writing here, and this page will save you from digging through the archives. Although if you really want to dig through the archives, go nuts.

Adventures and Misadventures

Adventures and misadventures make for the best stories.

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Stories from a marriage.

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My take on modern motherhood.

Meta: Life Online

IRL is for sissies.

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Talking, climbing and kind of walking

As I sit here with my laptop in the living room, Sean is snoring next to me on the couch. I really should take the hint and wake him up so we can go to bed, but I’m enjoying the (almost) quiet time and am trying to get some online stuff done.

(Cue Sean waking up, but not being quite ready to go to bed yet.)

Looking around, it looks like my living room looks like it exploded. Honestly, so does the rest of the house, but we won’t talk about that. When can I train Flora to put her toys away and maybe do a little mopping around here? This is a semi-serious question – does anyone have any advice on how to get a nearly 18-month old to pick up her toys? Or am I fighting a losing battle at this point?

In other related Flora news, she is started to turn into a real chatterbox. It’s not all real words, but there’s more and more of them every day. We’ve even heard a few two-word sentences out of her where we understood both words. The first one was “Daddy toot” which has been a big source of laughs every time it comes up. Today’s sentence was “do it”, which she said when she was going up the stairs. Yes, she’s climbing stairs now. Up for a couple of weeks, and down successfully for the first time tonight.

And yet the little bugger still doesn’t want to walk on her own. She’ll sometimes take your hand and walk, or do lots of cruising holding onto stuff, but no solo steps yet. Girlfriend definitely has a mind of her own. She’s climbing and standing for longer periods, so we know she’s capable. She just doesn’t want to walk places on her own. My mom suggested a push toy that she can stand up and walk with – we may give that a go. She loves her baby dolls (her favourite word is ‘baby’) so maybe a doll stroller would work.

And now Sean is snoring again. I think it really is time for us to go to bed.

Video fun with Flora

We haven’t made a video in awhile, so I finally got smart enough to pick up the camera and film while Flora was in a good mood. It’s five minutes of cute baby babble and arm waving due to her mummy and daddy saying silly things and making silly faces.

Flora is a Smartie from Melissa Price-Mitchell on Vimeo.

Trying to fit everything in

Daddy and FloraMummy and FloraSo, where did the last few weeks go? I can’t believe July is more than half-over. We’ve been busy in the Mitchell household, but not uncomfortably so. We all adjusted to my being back at work without any major issues. I was amazed at how while lots had changed at the office while I was gone, it ultimately is “same stuff, different day”. Parenthood has really put my work life into perspective. It’s a lot easier to leave the worries and petty office dramas at the office when there is a small person at home who picks up on your bad moods and reflects them back at you. I’d rather have a happy baby during the precious few hours I get to spend with her between my arrival home and her bed time. It’s a lot easier to come home happy though – I really look forward to seeing Sean and Flora on the deck playing outside when I walk up the driveway or watching the two of them interact while Flora eats her dinner, or whatever they’re doing when I come home. I think Sean is really enjoying his time at home with her, and I hope that he will gain some of the same perspective I did when I returned to work. I feel kind of bad actually that I wasn’t able to compartmentalize a little better when it was just Sean and I. It’s not like I was a work-obsessed corporate zombie before Flora was born, but I spent a lot more time worrying about work-related stuff than I do now.

New Car SeatIn other news, Flora has moved up from her infant car seat to a (much bigger) toddler/child car seat. Not because of her weight (her weigh-in at the doctor yesterday put her at 19 pounds, 12 ounces), but because she was getting too tall for the seat and it looked like it was getting uncomfortable. So we picked up a new seat that will sit both rear-facing and forward-facing (see this link on rear facing car seats) and with some outside help, got it installed into our car. I’ve been calling her new seat “the command centre” because it is huge (since she’ll be able to use it well into her toddler years) and looks kind of like an office chair for your car, complete with cup holder. Flora looks more comfortable in this seat and the buckles are easier to work with so she gets strapped in faster.

What else has happened around here? We’ve spent several weekends and a few days around Canada Day visiting family and friends. Flora got to have her first boat ride and dip into Lake Ontario courtesy of her Grandma Faye and Grampy Doug. I don’t think she was too impressed with her lifejacket, but she did enjoy the water, sand and boat. Next up will be swimming at Auntie Kyla’s!

Queen of the Beach! Sand doesn't taste so good Grandma Faye introduces Flora to the beach Where's my neck? Boating with Grandma and Grampy is fun! Napping on the boat This ship has a new captain




I cannot believe that this child is turning one in one month and two weeks time! This really was the Fastest. Year. Ever.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.