When parenthood looms, there are a number of skills that any self-respecting mum or dad will want to acquire. Breast-feeding, nappy-changing and bottle-expressing are talents that, while not exactly rocket science, must nevertheless be learnt by neophyte parents. Another talent that can be added to that list is pram-pushing. It may sound simple, but it’s harder than you’d think.
When I was little and my mum would take me to the supermarket, I always clamoured to get to push the trolley. After knocking over towers of tinned fruit and nipping a few old ladies’ ankles, I was soon relieved of my duties however. Imagine my excitement, years later, when I became a father, and the opportunity arose to relive the four-wheeled perambulations of my youth. Best of all, there’d be no one with the authority to curtail my fun, should things go awry.
As I manipulated the pram through crowded streets for the first time, I found myself confronted by a series of incommodious wheeled obstacles to negotiate – opposing prams. I had never realised how many babies there are in the world until acquiring one myself. As I fleetingly made eye contact with the mothers struggling to manoeuvre their cumbersome contraptions past mine, I wondered what the correct protocol was for such situations. White van men tend to give each other a nod and let their fellow drivers out at junctions. Do the same rules apply to pram etiquette? Unsure of the correct protocol to follow, I decided against acknowledging my fellow pram-pushers.
During my sojourn through town, I clung on tightly to the pram at all times, scared that I might become separated from it. The firm grip was not for fear of someone trying to steal my baby, but lest i absentmindedly wander off, forgetting that I had company. My dad once forgot my sister and arrived home without her, much to the horror of my mum. 25 years later, he’s still not been forgiven. Returning home with all my shopping but no daughter would make for an inauspicious start to fatherhood. After expertly pushing the pram up and down kerbs, through swing doors and up escalators, it occurred to me that all my trolley-pushing practice of yore had stood me in good stead.
The ability to nappy-change one-handed while spoon-feeding your baby is an invaluable skill to acquire, especially during those formative early months. Likewise, if you can express milk in the middle of the night without so much as raising your weary head off the pillow, your talent is to be admired. When it comes to venturing out into the real world however, the only skill you truly need is to have complete mastery over your buggy. By all means baby your baby, but don’t let that pram run you ragged – teach it who’s boss. It’s the only language it understands.