One Mom’s Battle Against the Wack Jobs of Brooklyn Heights

We received a fiery dispatch from a BHB reader/Mom over the weekend. Given the fact that Mrs. Fink and I have had similar brushes with the “eccentric” side of Brooklyn Heights since Baby Fink was born in 2010, we wonder if any of you have had similar experiences. Check out our reader’s tale of Brooklyn Heights Crazy after the jump.

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In my 20’s and 30’s I lived on the Upper East Side. I lived with my boyfriend, we were artists had no kids and were not ashamed to eat Ramen Noodles. So, I would bristle every time a perfectly manicured and accessorized UES mom suddenly stopped their $700 stroller in the middle of the crowded sidewalk to give their darling, adorably dressed charges a cookie. I would grit my teeth and think, “JUST PULL OVER.” So, now that I’m a mom respectfully do my best not to block the narrow jagged sidewalks of my beloved Brooklyn Heights. I say I succeed about 90% of the time.

Now, I’m not proud of this but I have from time to time, been know to shoot my mouth off. Combine that with a mom’s fierce, primal instinct to defend their child and it’s a volatile combination.

But I have NO idea what happened this past week. Maybe Mercury was in retrograde or the planets aligned in some horrible way, but the wack job haters were out in force. And they found ME. Let’s just say I now know how a person could lift a car off their kid.

1) Starbucks arty woman in black says to my friend twice, “2 kids? You should keep your legs shut!” I said “Eccentric is one thing, rude is another. How bout you keep your mouth shut!”

2) Sidewalk on Pierrepont (Mom and daughter push in between stroller and my son and actually moved my son out of the way. The words excuse me never crossed their lips. I am, for once, speechless but when one of them turns around to give me a dirty look from across the street I scream “Don’t touch my kid, how bout “Excuse Me?!”

3) Eastern Athletic (With PLENTY of room on the sidewalk a man pushes between my friend, my stroller and I, steps on my friend’s foot and yells at me “You must have a very strong sense of entitlement! You’re taking up the whole sidewalk” Honestly, we weren’t. He even dared to take a step toward us with my son in the stroller. I turned the stroller away and said “you are going to get in my face when I have my child in the stroller? What is WRONG WITH YOU?!” He kept screaming and entered the club. I almost called the cops to have him arrested…my call to the club manager was pointless. They won’t intervene if an incident happens on the sidewalk, only inside the club.

I’ve given up hope that people will hold doors for us. And it’s only when I have an expression of total panic on my face that someone will assist us down the Subway stairs. But, these incidents this week put me over the edge. So to answer the psycho from Eastern Athetic’s question: YES I do have a sense of entitlement! I am entitled to defend my child! WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? How is it ok to TOUCH another person’s child? What happened to “excuse me?” Why is there so much hostility toward women taking care of children? Knowing that any clever retort (real or imagined) I make can’t change bad behavior, why can’t I keep my cool? Has anything like this happened to you? Mama needs a glass of wine.

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  • Henry Hicks

    Darlin’, I expect you’re going to get an enormous amount of response on BHB from our passionate readers… As someone who does not have kids, the incidents you’ve pointed out are beyond the comprehension of everyday human decency and yes — just plain rude from a number of utter asswipes you’ve encountered.

    unfortunately, i believe you are bearing the brunt of a greater trend that seems to have overtaken the sidewalks of new york… the “i’m a mom and because of my innate struggle, you will accommodate ME.”

    while you may well be polite & wholly aware of the fact that we are all sharing the same narrow spaces, unfortunately, there are far too many mommies that seems to find it within their right to block doorways, hold elevator doors for an eternity, command the center of the sidewalk (particularly egregious with the dreaded double-wide stroller) and glare with disdain at the common folk who prefer single file, rapid-fire walking along the streets of the crowded city.

    i empathize with the fact that folks have been so rude to you — but i wish that every mom with strollers were as aware that NO — the fact that you DO tend to take up more space in public places and DO tend to stop & start & block pedestrian traffic when your kid starts whining and DO often feel an odd sense of misplaced entitlement — makes you an easy target for a collective furrowed brow.

    sorry, but from a completely objective non-kid-raising point of view, that’s the way it is.

  • WillowSt.Neighbor

    Henry Hicks,
    I believe you hit the nail on the head with your response.
    Our sidewalks are very crowded and way too often I have had to take my 63 year old self into the street in order to get around mom’s with strollers or people walking dogs and taking up the sidewalk. There is most definitely a sense of entitlement when I cannot get down the aisle at CVS due to the fact that a double wide stroller is literally taking up the entire width of the aisle.
    New Yorkers in general just want to get where they are going and get there fast. Quite frankly, I do not want to have to walk in the street either just to get down the sidewalk. It’s dangerous!

  • Mr. Crusty

    I am with Henry Hicks and Willow on this one. While the behavior described by Mom is not to be excused in any way I do understand the frustration many of us feel in dealing with those ever present strollers in places strollers were never meant to be. Just the other day I had to wait in line at Rite Aide while a pair of doting parents apparently were giving their child a lesson on how to check out. “Give the man the bottle of mouth wash, good boy, now the tooth paste”. This continued right through the payment process, thankfully ending with, “take the receipt and say thank-you to the nice man”.

    All this while there were at least 5 people waiting on line. The self centered, narcissistic, behavior nearly caused me to say something but I didn’t. If I had I probably would have been the subject of a “what is the world coming to?” letter to the BHB.

  • Mr. Crusty

    I think this portion of Mom’s rant is a bit of a give away, “I almost called the cops to have him arrested…my call to the club manager was pointless”

    Have him arrested? For what exactly? For stepping on you friend’s foot trying to get through your blockade of the public sidewalk? You called the club to “intervene”? Momma, forget the glass of wine, take a Xanax.

  • ABC

    I have two kids and did my strollering on the mean streets of Brooklyn Heights and never had any yell at me or act like this mom describes. It does sound bad, altho this mom’s reactions sound a little nuts too. I suspect there is more to the story and, as has been pointed out by others, this mom was taking up a lot of room.

    OTOH, I have never cared if someone has a $700 stroller or if they’re using it in – gasp – CVS. Not long ago you couldnt check out at Key Food with a stroller, it wouldn’t fit! They widened then about 4 years back but I’d given up on them by then. Starbucks here is not kid-friendly with it’s skinny lay out but the cupcake place is and cheaper too. Everything upstairs on Montague is too hard. I stopped taking the subway when I had two kids in a stroller.

    It’s funny how half this neighborhood closes down to you when you have a stroller and people can be rude. But being rude to a woman with a stroller is somehow acceptable here. Nobody will open a door. Clark Street was by far the worst place to get a subway seat when very pregnant. Two pregnancies and a job uptown and I never one time had a white guy get up to give up his seat. Never in hundreds and hundreds of rides.

    This mom could do better but we all could.

  • Mr. Crusty

    Oh, and Homer, I think it is Whack Jobs, not Wack Jobs.

  • Mr. Crusty

    . . . Or maybe not.

  • Freddie

    Having 2 kids myself, and many many hours of stroller time under my belt, I just have to say; get over it ! you are being a big baby yourself, complaining and all. People will not change: some are rude, some are uncaring, some may be impolite. So what? learn to ignore and move on.

  • Curmudgeon

    One of the things that I have noticed these days is the rather advanced age of some of the kids being pushed in these strollers. We’re talking “long in the tooth” kids who are waaaay past the stroller age and should be walking. They are either being controlled or pampered by their doting parents much to the detriment of the rest of us. Apparently, it is easier for mommy and daddy to inconvenience the rest of us rather than themselves – with their double wide strollers – one side for groceries and the other side for their five year old.

  • bagel boy

    Perfect example of why people are rude to you: on sunday the clark street elevator was packed and 2 idiots were standing right inside the door with a stroller. The kid was about 3 in the stroller. They at once realized that little johnny lost his hat by the turnstyle. Omg. Pandemonium. Everyone must stop and wait for them both to push the stroller out to find the hat. But now is where it gets interesting: the dad puts the stroller right in the doorway while mama retrieves the hat. The stroller then gets stuck as the doors close for the 3rd time. They finally push back in. Why couldn’t they just get out. Get the hat and wait for the next elevator in 1 to 2 mins? Its not like missing a flight. Its an elevator for gosh sake. This is why people are rude to you mama.

    No gives a crap about your kid or you. Stop being so self absorbed and doting. Look at all the hipsters in brooklyn from the midwest. That’s what your kid is going to be. A loser with a participation trophy.

  • carol

    I’m not so sure it’s only parents with strollers who are rude and thoughtless. More than once I have been run into by someone who was walking and texting-totally oblivious to the everything around. Or the cellphone user having a random loud conversation – irritating and worse since you can only hear half the interchange.

    Another pet peeve I have is when a group of three to four people stop to talk and block a street corner or a sidewalk. If I say excuse me to get by, the reaction is usually annoyance – rarely a sorry.

    Wasn’t there at a point in the not so recent past when there was a distinction between public and private behavior? Parents taught their children how to behave in public – what was rude behavior and what was polite. I’m not referring to some antiquated Victorian mores but simple respect for other people.

  • ABC

    Curmudgeon, is it possible that you don’t really know how to judge a kids age? I don’t know any kids who are using a stroller past 4 — and I know a lot of neighborhood kids. Using a stroller for kids up to and including 3 is pretty standard in and out of Brooklyn. You have to remember, people use strollers to the grocery store, yes, but also outings to the village or park slope. Those are long walk for little kids.

    Also, you sound like a jackass.

  • KG

    Hahaha. I totally have moments like this — this overpowering sense of rage at other bystanders who DARE to not accommodate me and my son and my huge honkin’ stroller. Even with other moms, where we’ll be walking down Henry Street and have to push the stroller around the tree or plant or whatever so we can’t pass each other by. And I used to get so unfuriated that the other stroller-bearer would go first. And now I just WAIT for them to go — it makes my life easier without that bubbling rage, and hey, there is something to be said for “politeness.”

    My point here is that it sounds suspicious that all of these incidents are finding this one woman — sounds like her problem, either of perspective (sense of entitlement), emotion (too short a fuse), or other.

  • KG

    Ha, need more coffee. “infuriated.” D’oh.

  • James

    Thanks to all of you for articulating what I’ve been screaming under my breath for years. Ditto, ditto, ditto…

  • Kiki

    I had two kids in the Heights, when I had the 3rd we moved but kept our place there so we could come hang out when the mood hit us. We were there all of July. We love the Heights but can’t afford another bedroom to accommodate all of us.

    Anyway, once when I was almost ready to have my 2nd, and I was pushing a stroller up the hill on Hicks laden with groceries, a woman with her little rat dog comes down the hill towards me. I was always extremely conscious of the space I was taking up and stayed to the side. I stopped in my tracks as she was not paying attention and I would have run over her dog who was wandering. I waited for her to stop. She made a ‘hmf’ sound at me and I just went momentarily bonkers on her. “I stopped lady to avoid your stupid animal. I am a human with another one in a stroller and another one obviously ready to come out of the oven. Are you f’ing kidding me?” Then she let her dog pee on my stroller wheel. If I hadn’t had the kid in the stroller, I would have hit the dog!

    After that moment, I just would barrel down the street giving no care in the world about the stupid dogs in my way. A few had close calls with my stroller. Ha! Dog walking people are more rude than moms with strollers. You can go around a stroller, you have a harder time avoiding the crap stains and pee puddles these idiots leave right in the middle of the side walk.

    This summer, one woman says to me, “Oh you must be a tourist.” as we were hanging on the Promenade a few steps from our place. I said “what would make you say that?” and she immediately replied, “Well, no one has 3 kids in the Heights” along with the implied-idiot look! So, that says it all.

  • ABC

    3 is the new 2, Kiki! So many people with 3 these days.

    That woman was just your typical out-of-touch Brooklyn Heightsian.

  • Big Dave

    Baby strolling Mom
    Fiery summer rage
    Urban grace is never great.

  • WillowSt.Neighbor

    Bagel Boy,
    Thank you for my first real laugh of the day. “loser with a participation trophy”.
    How many times have I heard a parent say to their toddler
    “good job”. I usually look around to find that the child has done nothing but hold it’s parent’s hand while crossing the street.
    A “good job” is uttered almost constantly these days and for no other reason than the child is doing what it was supposed to do.
    I must be getting old.

  • WillowSt.Neighbor

    Mr. Crusty,
    For once we agree.
    In addition, some of us “seniors” (I cringe at the word when having to describe myself that way) have serious health issues.
    Getting hit by a stroller, bike (etc) would have a devastating effect on my bones that are either riddled with arthritis or osteoporosis. Take your pick. I have a bad leg from a massive DVT suffered nearly10 years ago but haunts me on a daily basis.
    I am actually scared to go out on the streets these days for fear of getting hurt. This should not be.

  • WillowSt.Neighbor

    I agree with you that this woman has had too many incidents happen to her. The problem with the people who have the “sense of entitlement” is that they don’t know they have it!

  • amused

    Entertainment pure. What a way to start the work week.

    BTW, some of the crap stains and pee puddles are from two legged animals. Yes, you woman in your late twenties wearing a school girl uniform I saw the puddle on the sidewalk you left on Friday night shortly before midnight. Your idiot boyfriend gave away what was going on…

  • Mr. Crusty

    The more I think of this Mom’s rant the angrier I get. Lets look at her three incidents in one day.

    Starbucks. Rather tight space won’t you think? So if I have it right, she is in there with her stroller and untethered child along with a friend with another stroller and another wandering child. Two adults, two children, two strollers. Do you think you may have hampered some movement in Starbucks. Do you not see that as being RUDE. And it’s Starbuck’s for Pete’s sake, not Toys R Us!

    Pierrepont “(Mom and daughter push in between stroller and my son and actually moved my son out of the way. ” Well if they had to push between your stroller and your son apparently you were yet again in the way. Blocking pedestrian traffic. Causing an inconvenience. Being RUDE.

    Eastern Athletic “a man pushes between my friend, my stroller and I, steps on my friend’s foot” Again it is you. your friend. your stroller, her stroller, your child, her child in the middle of the sidewalk causing people to “push between”. RUDE, RUDE, RUDE.

    And you wonder why people don’t say “Excuse me”? YOU are the one that should be saying, “Excuse me for blocking your way. Excuse my child for running in front of you. Excuse me for thinking that I have the right to plop down in the middle of a sidewalk and block everyone’s ability to walk without interference.

    Hey, when you have 3 incidents in a day where people are upset with you perhaps you should look in the mirror and see who exactly is the one being rude.

  • brooklyn boy

    I’m with you Crusty. How about:
    2 strollers riding slowly, side by side down Court Street with one of the moms on her cell- both moms oblivious to the back-up they’re causing.
    Screaming toddlers in local restaurants-parents ignoring the children while they get a little “quiet time”: together.
    A mom and dad riding their bikes on the sidewalk on Boerum Place, each with a child seated on the bike. My wife was nearly run over.
    No one wants to be that “crazy guy” ranting in the street but the “young parent” mentality rampant in the neighborhood needs to be examined.

  • Buck Futt

    Y’know, I was about to go off on the whole hipster anti-breeder mentality, but then I remembered the time about a decade ago when a twit with a stroller in front of me on a walking/bike trail saw somebody she knew coming from the other direction, and turned the stroller so that it blocked the entire trail. From my bike behind her, I was forced to slam on the brakes, went over my handlebars, and wound up fracturing my hip.

    So yes, the anti-strollerites have a point.

  • Mr. Crusty

    @amused girl in late 20’s, in school girl uniform, peeing in the street. Where else but New York?

  • Mr. Crusty

    @Buck Futt ” I was forced to slam on the brakes, went over my handlebars, and wound up fracturing my hip.”

    Who cares about you?… but was The Child… The Child I say, in any way traumatized by the incident? My sympathies are with The Child having to endure such an unseemly event.

  • Buena Vista Skies

    I split my time between the provinces and the city. I have three children, one of whom is 5.

    One trip into NY Penn Station, was walking up the broken escalator with the five year-old. I am not one of those people who put five year-olds in strollers because it’s easier to lock them down and shove them around town; I can’t stand that, either. So we were walking up a short, broken escalator with maybe 50 steps, max.

    Some guy behind us said “Get out of the way, this is New York”, and tried to push my son aside. Now these stairs are maybe 36 inches wide. So my son got a shove before I put my arm out and said, “Back off.”

    I didn’t deck him, but that’s probably only because I’m divorced and would lose what little access I have left if I got pinched for A&B. There’s clearly a mounting anti-child sentiment building in NYC, and again, one that I share in the context of lazy mom’s and their truck-like strollers occupied by four or five year-olds. I think what’s happening is that the strollers, just like those suitcases on wheels in airports, are doubling the space consumed vs. how the sidewalks/airports were designed. I have been living in the city off and on since 1980, and I don’t recall this tension previously.

  • Willowtowncop

    Three observations:
    1. the one constant in all of these stories is the author. Sounds to me like she’s the problem.
    2. Strollers have gotten quite a bit bigger over the years. 30 years ago people weren’t carting everything they owned in a $700 Cadilac – it was a small umbrella stroller that fit only the child and didn’t take up much more room. Perhaps the outrage is more about all the grocery bags and every toy the child owns that are being carted down the street, than the child himself.
    3. I am so glad I’m not the cop you were thinking of calling because I would have either stared at you with a disgusted look and gotten back in the car without a word or given you a lecture on wasting police resources while people who were victims of actual crimes or car wrecks, etc. were waiting. That statement alone, that you were thinking of “having someone arrested” like you could just call up the cops and direct them what to do regardless of the total lack of any law that the man had broken, probably because you “pay their salary” tells me that you’re the entitled type who was probably wrong in 100% of the situations that you’re whining about above.

  • sonny

    Having been on both sides of this debate – childless and impatient with kids, and now a mother in Brooklyn Heights – I agree and disagree with many of the commentators. Oddly, I even agree with Mr. Crusty on some things.

    I think parents around here feel that even though they had a child, their life doesn’t need to change and that they can go on doing what they want. That’s not the case. By definition, having a child means that you have to adjust to a new lifestyle. Things that you were able to do before are not that easy with a child – deal with it. It’s the whole hipster “babies in bars” mentality. You’re not entitled to take your kid to a bar and disrupt everyone else just because you feel like you’re still a cool parent. You make compromises when you decide to have kids. That said, some of you baby-haters need to get over yourselves too.

    1 – yes, I can understand totally how one would go to any length to protect their child.

    2 – strollers are way too big these days. I know we do more walking in the city than in the suburbs and strollers are almost a form of extra storage, but we really need to downsize in this department. You can’t go out lugging everything but the kitchen sink – it takes up space and gets in people’s way. Be efficient – if you’re going to a store nearby, just use a baby carrier or something. Don’t be a sidewalk hog.

    3 – to all the haters who say “children just don’t belong in a CVS,” screw you! Should all parents and children just lock themselves up at home and never go outdoors for fear of getting in the way of everyone else? Should there be signs saying “Children not welcome here?” That would be like saying the elderly move too slowly and clog traffic on the sidewalk – maybe the elderly should stay home. Get over yourselves. Everyone is entitled to come and go. But, I would add, that people just need to use common sense. For example, if your kid is too young and causes a commotion at your kitchen table, then maybe they’re just not ready to eat out at a restaurant.

    4 – to all the doting hipster parents who feel that riding the escalator stairs is the perfect time to teach baby Jimmy how to walk, or to the example at CVS about the parents teaching their kid how to check-out – there’s a time and a place for things. CVS or a subway are not it! Teach your kid these activities somewhere else when they’re not holding everyone else up.

    5 – on that note, all you haters keep complaining about kids. What about the supposed “adults” who read their Kindles and iPads while walking down the sidewalk or going up escalators, holding up the line of people behind them. I would say they’re just as self-absorbed and entitled.

    6 – “Excuse me” means nothing. I’ve been the victim of many wild kids and adults too, who push and shove. Then you hear “Jimmy, say excuse me, say excuse me…” The kid doesn’t even know what “excuse me” means. And it’s not like he moves anyway. The proper response would be to physically remove your child and say “I’m sorry” to show that he acted wrongly and you acknowledge this.

    7 – As for people not holding doors, or being rude, or giving dirty glances – get used to it. It’s New York. People are jerks. Not once during my pregnancy did any able-bodied man or woman offer me a seat. And never did I expect them to. I even passed out on the train once and nobody but my husband and the EMTs did anything. I’m surprised nobody made off with my purse. That’s just the way it is around here, unfortunately.