Back when we were shopping for a new car, I discovered in myself an involuntarily reflex for noticing the make and model of every car I’d pass. It was uncontrollable. I was already used to careful observation of cars as I flew by them on my bike, but for that purpose they were indistinguishable piles of metal. Suddenly they invaded the section of my brain I use for shopping and decision-making. That section is admittedly small, and it was a shocking experience.
The same thing is happening now with strollers. Up until a few weeks ago, strollers got filed away in the same place as dogs and the elderly: unavoidable, slow-moving, albeit harmless denizens of the sidewalk. I certainly couldn’t tell one from another. I never was assaulted by a stroll-and-run, but if I had, no way would I be able to pick it out of a line-up. Then I started shopping for one myself, and that part of my brain started to fill up again with new information, and one again my life became flooded with a cacophony of new, previously hidden stimuli.
What’s bizarre about this is that we already have our stroller picked out. We decided on one pretty much the same day we started learning about them, and put our choice on our registry. Some of Sarah’s friends have gone in and bought it for us, and right now it’s sitting in its box, in its amazon.com Crowl Royal-esque gift bag, in the baby’s room, waiting for the shower for its unwrapping. So there’s no reason I should waste any effort looking at other people’s strollers. I want to free my brain for more useful purposes, like the diaper decision. But I can’t help it; I’m part of this world now.
I wonder how much worse it’ll get once we actually take it out on the street. Is there an unspoken communication going on between strollerers that other folks can’t see? Will I throw knowing nods as I pass other moms and dads pushing the same brand as I and narrow my eyes at the rest? Parenthood is a club that I’m joining willingly and expectantly, but I’m starting to realize there may be confusing social interactions I don’t know about and that I’m not really ready for. Poopy diapers may be the least of my worries.