If there is anyone who knows Maclaren, it's a New York City mom.
Ronda Kaysen: The high-end umbrella strollers are small, light, compact, and have that awesome strap so you can throw the whole thing over your shoulder, hoist a toddler on your hip, and climb a ridiculous number of stairs to your fifth-floor walk-up apartment, where you can plant that piece of baby-carrying gear in a cluttered corner where no one will notice it.
So, when Maclaren announced this week that they were recalling 1 million strollers -- nine models sold from 1999 to 2009 -- because the strollers could inadvertently lob off a kid's finger, you could hear a collective gasp from every corner of the city.
"When I first heard, I thought, holy cow, everybody has a Maclaren, what a nightmare for them if they have to replace them all," Alison Branco, a Brooklyn mom, told momlogic.
Maclaren announced on Tuesday that after 12 children suffered finger amputations when they got their fingers caught in the hinge of the umbrella stroller, they would recall the strollers. Customers can order a replacement part on Maclaren's website. But, until the safety kit arrives in the mail, parents are left with the choice of continuing to use a stroller that could potentially maim their young or doing without.
If moms in other cities tucked their Maclarens away until the part arrives in the mail, New York moms are clenching their teeth, tossing their kids in the strollers and hoping for the best. After all, in this city of 8 million, few moms have cars, so driving to the park or school is rarely an option, and nearly everyone uses the subway, the bus, or walks far distances with kids in tow. A week without a handy, foldable stroller isn't really an option.
"I'm humongously pregnant, so there's no way I could deal with my almost 3-year-old in Brooklyn without it right now," Branco, who is 33 weeks pregnant, said.
On Thursday morning, Amy Wilson of Manhattan had to take her three kids to school on the bus. Her Maclaren was her only option. "I didn't think twice about it," she said, talking to momlogic from her Upper West Side apartment. "It's the only one where I can carry my kid and carry my stroller."
When she was walking up the street, pushing her recalled stroller with her 2-year-old daughter in it, she noticed several double takes from Maclaren-less mothers. But, given the circumstances, she didn't see another option. "I felt like it was a scarlet letter," she said.
Wilson, who wrote the nationally touring one-woman show "Motherload," has been very vocal about her outrage at Maclaren. "Nothing about a stroller should cut off a part of your kid's body," she said.
She's devoted several blog posts to the subject, lambasting the company for waiting until a dozen children were disfigured before they bothered to mention the problem. The New York Post reported on Thursday that the company knew for at least five years that their strollers chopped off baby fingers.
Not all New York moms are rattled by the recall, however. "Are people really freaking out about this? I mean, it's for 10 years' worth of strollers -- and, well ... really?" said Brooklyn mom Liz Lauricella. "I just ordered my part and got on with it. Been using my Mac just as much as before."
|Ronda Kaysen is a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, BusinessWeek.com, Architectural Record, Huffington Post, New York Observer and AM New York. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.|