Buggy Battleground

I’m warning you now – I may be about to have an unfair rant.  A rant about British people.   British people and their manners.

That’s why I’m giving you the chance to stop reading now.

Right here.  Especially if you’re British or adverse to sweeping cultural generalizations because in my mind, this does not happen in America.  In my mind, the people of America clear paths, sprinkle rose petals on the ground and softly sing lullabies when a momma with a baby is coming through.

Clearly this is going to be a rational post.

Well…considered yourself fairly warned.  You made the call.  I do not want to be likened to Prince Philip in the comments section.


I am not an entitled Mummy.  I do not walk into town to throw my maternal weight around (which you will find in my baby-lifting arm and shoved in the bottom of my changing bag).  I don’t wave my toddler around your face to try and jump a queue or expect everyone to stop and open doors for me (although that does help – thank you.)

Because my daughter is 1, she goes in her buggy when we are walking through town.   When shopping for her buggy, personally inconveniencing you didn’t fall in the top 5 of my pushchair criteria.  It was #9.

But British people, when you see me in a restaurant or public area trying to squeeze past you, I am not TRYING to hit your table.  I am not intentionally getting the wheels of the buggy caught on your chair and in the hangers spilling from your Primark bag.


I smiled at you.

I politely said, “So sorry.  Pardon me.”

And I am met with no eye contact, no attempts to be helpful and at most, an ever so slight scoot of a chair.

It’s a small ask.  I would just like the tiniest acknowledgement the “path” I’m trying to navigate is like trying to drive a small person in a tank through a garden gate.  So, if you could stand up, push your chair in and be inconvenienced for 3 seconds to help a struggling mother out, I’d really appreciate it.

Please and thank you and start being nicer to me or I swear I will drive this buggy straight into your shins.


11 thoughts on “Buggy Battleground

  1. deeenasaur

    Hahhaa this is a fantastic rant. I think one of the issues is that in American, we’re EXTRA involved in everyone’s business, which can be a good think (ie moving around to help you pass) or a bad thing (unnecessarily chiming in with our 2 cents about how we think a baby should be raised). Whereas in England, they’re kinda polite to the extreme, which again has positives and negatives…. at least that was my impression whilst living abroad. Anywho, great post! 🙂

  2. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

    And there it is! The beauty of perspective.

    When we arrived in New York, I was shocked by the comments made to me by complete strangers. I hadn’t experience that at all in the UK (Clearly I’ve been living abroad too long.) So you can imagine my rage when airport personnel at JFK felt it was appropriate to address my jet-lagged 1 year old and say “You are too old for…..”

    Thanks for the comment and helpful observation. xo

  3. Deborah

    I have never had anyone throw rose petals down for me, but I do find people to be helpful to me when I have little ones in tow. They almost always open doors, sometimes carry a tray if needed, occasionally a person will offer to let me go in front of them in line ( I never have asked to do that though).One day Landon was having a tantrum and was refusing to hold onto my hand or the cart as we were leaving Wal-mart and going to the parking lot. I had Emmaline in the front of the cart and the rest was filled with groceries and a very nice older man offered to push the cart for me because I was having to carry a screaming 3 year old to the car. He was so sweet and said “you’re doing the right thing honey keeping him safe, you just lead the way and I’ll help you with the cart.” Him being so nice coupled with the fact that I was stressed out and embarrassed by my fit throwing child, I was almost in tears when I thanked him but none the less very grateful for his assistance.
    I have never had anyone make an unwelcome remark about my children, have gotten some dirty looks from time to time though. The only time I can remember someone even speaking to my child in a reprimanding way was actually at wal-mart (again) when Landon was having a meltdown (he really doesn’t have them htat often, but when he does they tend to be there for some reason) and a man behind me in line told him “young man, get up off the floor” which I was fine with because I had been trying to get him to do the same thing and I think it actually made him straighten up a little to have a stranger reprimand him.
    Anyways… I guess its about time you moved back to the US. We are awfully nice to young mothers over here. 😉
    Love you!

  4. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

    Haha. To me that is the equivalent of rose petals. It can be frustrating here sometimes. I genuinely feel like I would welcome those offers of assistance rather than feeling completely ignored and like I’m struggling alone. So dear about the older gentlemen. Bless his cotton socks.

  5. Monique

    First — {{{HUGS}}}! We’ve all been there, mama!! And now, my vast perspective of living here for a year suggests to me what deenasaur is saying above — you are suffering from being given an excess of politeness. I think all those British people who are working so hard to ignore you are trying to give you your space to work out whatever is going on without feeling like they are looking over your shoulder or trying to tell you what to do. Here’s an experience I had — a young girl fell on a playground, and emergency services had to be called. She ended up being airlifted off the playground. In the states, you can imagine the level of crowd-control that might have been needed. Video phones. News. Everyone getting involved. Here — the entire rest of the playground with the exception of the girl herself, the mom, and the emergency personnel themselves … went on about their business. It was like *nothing was happening*. The girl was in a perfect cone of polite space. Weird and hard to understand for an American, yes. But … polite.

    And, as a mom who had little ones in the US … ixnay on the rose petals. I did find that no one ever helped when I had a stroller — but if I had a baby in a sling, it was like a red carpet was being rolled out in front of me. Doors being opened, people carrying my bags. So bizarre.

    Well! You have inspired me to rant as well. What fun. 🙂

    1. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

      Thanks Monique! I definitely feel that there is something to what you have both said. I could certainly see that playground situation happening at any primary in england.

      I’ve talked your ideas through with The Native. He was with me during the last incident. His feelings were that in this case it was symptomatic of the “can’t be arsed” crowd.

  6. Leanne - The Mommy Radar

    I just posted a vaguely similar thing on my blog. I live in Canada and the Toronto Transit Commission was reviewing a resident’s request to limit the number of strollers (buggies, as you Brits say) on buses and streetcars during peak times. The absurdity of us parents trying to take our kids out in public, eh?

    I am lovin’ your blog. You have such a gift with words. I’ll gladly listen to your well-versed rants any time!

    1. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

      I popped over and had a read. I think sometimes it really does come down to not wanting to deal with the inconvenience.

      And thanks for the lovely comment. Nice comments like that keep me posting. It’s always better when posts lead to good conversation.

  7. Liz

    Oh dear. I’m so sorry! I’ve never understood those that can not even pretend to care. I started laughing at the end because it took me back to when my husband was parking the car and my then- three year old daughter and one year old daughter and I tried to find our seats in a dark theater… We went to see The Wiggles. I had my baby on my hip and my three year old behind me and said, “excuse me” to a man with such long legs that I couldn’t squeeze by so we could get . He looked at me, said nothing, then looked right back at the stage.

    Needless to say, I could learn a lesson in politeness from you because I plowed right through that man! Maybe Americans are over-sensitive…


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