Monday, May 3, 2010

Kid Friendly

We just celebrated an early Mother's Day by spending the weekend in Canmore. Nice town in many ways and so close for us.

But I'm somehow stuck on the concept of Kid Friendly. Before Scarlett, I didn't need to give this idea much thought, but all of a sudden it feels like there are huge signs and flags everywhere.

For instance, our hotel was pretty kid friendly. (Best Western). We saw lots of kids everywhere, there was a pool with a slide - well that was big-kid friendly, and there were lots of food options at the complimentary breakfast that Scarlett would eat. Our room also came with a fireplace that we couldn't use since there was no protection between us and the hot glass, and a desk with sharp corners right at kid height. That's ok-no fire and we strategically placed items so Scarlett would make it to the real Mother's Day with both eyes. Plus, they let us bring our dog, so for us, dog friendly also meant kid friendly.

We decided to walk into town and use the stroller. It was a very accessible walk as the sidewalks have a smooth graduation to the road-perfect. And Canmore is a pretty busy town for the moms with babies and kids. It may have very well been the highest number of Chariot strollers per capita that I have ever seen.

We quickly realized that what is a friendly pedestrian area is not a friendly stroller area. We didn't venture taking the stroller into any stores for fear that we'd never get out, but the clincher came when we stopped at a cafe for tea and saw the sign "No strollers beyond this point". Really? So we decided to sit at the patio. I probably should have taken our business elsewhere, but I was tired. We we sat down with the stroller on the patio. And the dog-did I mention we had our dog? A few minutes into tea, I read another sign, "No strollers on patio?" Really? And no dogs. Oops. We stayed, no one asked us to leave, but now I felt uncomfortable. The servers were friendly but the rules were not.

We went on the baordwalk by the river-and hauled the stoller up and down the stairs. What would someone in a wheel chair do? No river walk for you.

The trip was still good. We chose to get take out for dinner and eat in our room. Was that influenced by the unpredictable nature of our toddler when we strap her into a high chair, escpecially when we need to wait for food? Of course. And we did visit some fun stores-but individually and not as a family. The second hand book store did have a small kids play area, we were happy to see.

Is this a customary practice to not allow strollers into businesses? Is that the same criteria as wheelchair accessibility?

Yes, strollers are big and awkward. Yes baby carrying can be more friendly at many times. But the amount of stuff that accompanies little people is sometimes too much to carry, with a baby in your arms. And that stroller that may not fit in your store, may be the thing that keeps my toddler from running through your store and checking out all the items on your shelves. Is the no stroller rule saying you don't want stollers in your store, or kids?

A parent has enough things to watch for out that truly matter-keeping the kid from running into traffic, not picking up and eating garbage off the street, not petting stray dogs, leaving items that don't belong to us, where they belong, and not disappearing, period. I personally don't want to also have to watch for the signs that say that I'm not welcome somewhere.

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