Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bugger the Bugaboo: some thoughts on pramwars

The first time I took my daughter out in her pram, she was 3 weeks old. It took me two hours to get out of the house, and I steered her through town like she was the most precious cargo in the world, in a ship made of glass. Which, of course, she was.

I was acutely aware of being out in public with a pram. How could people not know I'd never done this before? I felt so unversed in pavement etiquette, looking for flat kerbs, avoiding dog mess, making way for people in wheelchairs, and most hair raising of all confronting shop doorways, and keeping a keen eye open for lifts.

But before you can worry about all of that, of course, you have to buy the bloody thing. So. Many moons ago, back in the mists of time when BaBy J was only a 14 week old mini bump, we decided to go for broke and buy a buggy. Or, more specifically, a Bugaboo. Even more specifically, a second hand, much used and preloved Bugaboo. And, unwittingly, in doing so, I started Pram Wars.

I didn't know pram snobbery, or even pram rivalry, existed until I innocently made the purchase, but £400 later (including second hand maxi cosi car seat) I was beginning to feel puzzled, annoyed and a little bit beaten up online. As an aside: Who is that irritating woman on Facebook anyway? Why am I friends with her? I'm not anymore.

In my past life, £400 would have cheerfully been spent on a weekend in London, perhaps a couple of new dresses, a day at a spa, or many memorable meals in yummy restaurants. So, to hand over hundreds of pounds for something I'd be pushing around wasn't a very exciting prospect. But, nevertheless it had to be done, and clueless in the world of pram purchasing, And buggy buying, I seized the first one I saw, on a local website, based only on the fact that:

1. My friend had one
2. She said it was good
3. She seemed to be able to take a wheel off it without crying

This, and no other factors, saw us taking the pram home, after a thorough demonstration from the owner which my husband watched with a hangover, and I watched in utter awe. It looked quite high tech and scary. I was assured it couldn't be broken, and armed with this multi purpose terrifying item, complete with a toddler board (what?) and uv filter canopy (who made this shit up?) we trundled off. As the boot of the car was at that time full of crap, I didn't even bother to measure it to see if it fitted the boot. We got it home, and promptly hid it under the spare room bed. The cat immediately took a liking to the cosy toes fleece lining. The lining was blue as the previous owner had boys. Poor Baby J doesn't even get a pink one.

So, disbelieving of  the fact we'd just bought a Bugaboo (Jesus, I'd be selling jam loaded in a trug at the local Farmer's Market next) I updated my Facebook status with that fact, and promptly lived to regret it. First to weigh in with a nice passive aggressive comment about me being some kind of brand obsessed whore was the woman who has now been de friended. She wrote: "Wow. Congrats on your bump. But seriously, a Bugaboo? I wouldn't have thought it was worth the money." (Subtext: you flashy cow, lashing out cash on a fucking pram.) That's the whole point! They're not with the money! That's why my child gets carted round in a second hand one. I'm not spending a grand for an "infant transport system" when my current car is worth less than a pair of designer shoes.

But suddenly prams were everywhere. Bugaboo, Graco, Mothercare, Mamas and Papas, Silvercross, Stokke, I candy, Oyster, you name it, I saw it. And wondered if I'd bought the "right" one, which, of course, is what the marketing is all about. Subtext: If you really, really cared about your child, you'd bankrupt yourself for the right ride. I've tried hard not to develop buggy envy, but I did nearly lean out of my moving car once to kidnap a Bugaboo which puts your shopping next to the kid (coz it's nice to have all your important stuff side by side, isn't it?) and I did have to ask one woman what brand hers was on a recent outing, simply because it kind of offered up her sleeping child on a sheepskin, as if he was modern Jesus floating not on a manger, but on a mini space ship. The pram in question sported wheels so wide, the upper middle class tat of the shop we were both in was about to hit the floor with a genteel sigh. In case you're wondering, it was a Silver Cross.

Don't get blubby about the buggy. Beg it, borrow it, buy it if you have to. But don't stress about it, or the matching changing bag. Life's too short. 

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