The Casual Father: Pram Wars - Taking on market day leads to jousting

Casual Father

Casual Father - Credit: Archant

Before Elizabeth was born, I was most definitely one of those people.

The kind that avoids small children like the plague, scowls at unruly ones in coffee shops, and carries little or no sympathy for mums and dads who push prams in crowded areas.

But with the boot now well and truly on the other foot, funnily enough, I am beginning to find a whole new empathy for parents.

Particularly in terms of buggy negotiation through busy town centres.

The old me would have questioned why mums and dads feel it necessary to cart their young child through hoards of weekend shoppers, but the new me now has answers.

a) They want to go shopping, b) They want to get out of the house, or c) Both.

The wife and I were very much in the C category as we trundled Elizabeth into Bury St Edmunds on Saturday morning.

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Although not the first time being behind the wheel of the buggy, it was my debut for taking on market day, and I was keen to see what sort of pram etiquette, if any, existed.

Does driving a little girl around in a four-wheel transportation system give you right of way over everyone else? The new me thinks it darn well should.

But after quickly realising that Elizabeth does not part the crowds like Moses and the Red Sea, I am forced to adapt.

I’m tested early on by several shoppers who are far more interested in their mobile phones than where they are going, but the buggy handles well as I skilfully swerve to avoid.

Others are obviously disgruntled at having to side step Elizabeth and I in their quest for a pound of bananas, but I puff my chest out and boldly stride on through.

As always, it is only when I start to get ahead of myself that the problems begin.

Navigating down a narrow side street, I come face to face with an imposing man pushing two children in a double buggy.

There is a space for him to pull over, but he ploughs straight through, and all of sudden it’s like a game of chicken. Does he have right of way given he has two kids?

I’m still not sure, but I eventually relent because he looked like the sort who could take to buggy rage – and his arms were bigger than my legs. Rounding the corner, an elderly woman on a mobility scooter approaches at an intimidating pace, with no hint of changing direction or slowing down.

Such is her conviction, she may as well have taken the cucumber out of her front basket and used it as a jousting stick.

Our eyes meet. “Not this time grandma,” I mutter under my breath.

I fake left at the very last minute, my right hand grazing the old lady’s handlebar and nearly sending the wife sprawling onto the cobbled St Edmundsbury street.

“Will you watch where you’re going,” berates the wife.

I accept the scolding with a smile, the new me thinks it was well worth it.