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Girls On Parade

About a month ago Maddie watched an episode of “Davey and Goliath” in which little Sally has a dolly stroller parade with her friends. The idea enchanted Maddie and she begged for her own dolly stroller parade, so I ended up organizing one within our playgroup. We sent out the email, inviting everyone to decorate their dolly strollers or their bikes and meet us in the park for a parade to our house.

On fire with the idea, Maddie’s been talking about it almost daily ever since, and yesterday we finally had our First Annual Dolly Stroller and Bike Parade. We’ve been preparing for the past few weeks, starting with the overall “theme” to the stroller. It was a tough decision, but Maddie finally decided to allow Abby Cadabby to ride in the dolly stroller, apologizing to her several Elmos profusely – “Guys, you’re just not dollies, and this is a dolly stroller parade! Ok, guys?” We raided the crafting store (God bless Texas and our crafting mega-stores!) and bought out everything they had in pink, purple, and blue feathers, sequins, and ribbons. Maddie practiced walking around playing her kazoo while pushing the dolly stroller. We’re talking hard-core preparations here.

The night before the parade we finally decorated the stroller, having acknowledged the folly of decorating it earlier and leaving it within Corazilla’s reach. Maddie propped Abby Cadabby up in the corner of the room, dancing around as Mommy tacked on feather boas and wove feathers into the cargo basket. Periodically she’d walk over to Abby and say, “Well, Abby, what do you think? Is the stroller pretty enough? Not yet? Ok, we’ll keep going!” Finally, with the poor dolly stroller groaning under the weight of stickers and jingle bells and other symbols of understatement and elegance, Abby deemed it lovely enough for her to ride in.

Parade morning rolled around and Maddie bounced out of bed, ants in her pants as she suffered through breakfast. We’d gone whole hog and gotten her matching feather boa ponytail holders and Baby Girl couldn’t wait until after breakfast for those, so I’ve got a quite funny picture of her breakfasting, naked but for a diaper and feathered pony tails. After a hasty breakfast we jumped into our clothes – Maddie carefully co-ordinated to complement Abby and her Wondrous Stroller, a visual ode to taste and restraint.

s_party_through_july_141.jpgYou might be wondering about Cora in all of this. My poor Li’l Bit has no choice but to go along with these schemes, and for the parade we hauled out the trusty red wagon for Cora to ride in. Since there’s nothing cuter than a patriotic baby in a red wagon, we went with the red white and blue theme, decking the wagon out in bunting and bows. Cora wore a patriotic-colored playsuit and, I must admit, some colorful hair bobbles I bought just to finish off the over-the-top look.


s_party_through_july_140.jpgMaddie’s friends Ella and Maya showed up to walk with us to the parade grounds, and the three of them lined up for a pre-parade picture that pretty much sums up the whole thing. We stowed Cora in her float – er, wagon, and headed the two blocks to the park. It’s difficult to march alongside three girls decked out to the nines, pushing flashy dolly strollers, and not feel festive, and we quickly found our parade groove, getting warmed up for the big event as cars slowed down to check us out and hoot appreciatively. We arrived at the park to find most of our friends already there, ready to parade, and the kids played as we waited for the other moms to show up.

And then things fell apart.

Apparently Maddie thought the walk to the park WAS the parade, and had had enough parading and was ready to play at the park with her friends. When told it was time to leave and parade back to our house for more playtime with everyone, Madeleine melted down. Big time. Crying and screaming, refusing to walk then begging me to carry her, Maddie had a hard time getting into parade line and starting off. I was quite relieved I’d left the video camera at home, since footage would have simply shown a wailing Madeleine walking at the head of a line of bewildered toddlers, all looking at each other (I imagined) as if to say, “But wasn’t this whole thing her idea? So what’s her beef?” Cora rode regally in her wagon, the whole look only marred by the fact that she couldn’t stop looking over her shoulder; since I was walking at the front of the line, Cora’s head was craned owl-like the whole time that she might enjoy the sight of nearly a dozen toddlers out strolling with their dollies and bikes.

After arriving at home for a big play time, Maddie had some water, a snack, and a break, and came back a changed girl. She spent the rest of the morning playing happily with her friends, and even after they left she went for mini-parades with the glam stroller around the house. I’m not sure how much longer the stroller decorations will last – already they’re looking a bit worse for the wear – but she looks at that thing with such happiness and affection that I can’t imagine we’ll be disassembling it any time soon, and instead it will simply die a slow death, one molting feather, one tired sticker at a time.

As for me, my favorite thing about the whole morning was the mommies. From my position at the front of the line, walking backwards to keep an eye on everyone, I could see how we all moved as one body, filling in where we were needed. Crossing a street, you’d see the mommies instinctively fan out, some heading out to stop traffic, some rounding up the stray dogies – er, children – and some coaxing along the rest of the herd. Watching them, you couldn’t really tell which child went with which Mommy – we were all responsible for everyone, and I love that. I love trusting that no one is judging my parenting skills as my toddler’s marches are punctuated by her sniffles and sighs, and I love that the mommy at the back simply assumes I’m going to keep Sofia from wandering into the street as we walk across. Because I will.

All in all the day was a huge success, meltdown and actual parade enjoyment on Maddie’s part notwithstanding. Next time we do this – and we will, because it filled a good few weeks with fun planning and crafting activities - we’ll have the forethought to organize some parade watchers, for nothing is more gratifying to a parading person than to be seen – it’s the fulfillment of your parade destiny, as it were. And kids that cute need to be seen by more than just their biased mommies.

So next time you’re driving through a Texas suburb, keep your eyes peeled. I’m feeling the First Annual Dolly Stroller and Bike Jingle Holiday Parade coming on. Crafting stores, stock up now.


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