Tell Me How To Feel About: THE LEASH
Kids on leashes. Probably one of the top parenting choices all but guaranteed to earn you some judge-y side-eye or comments from strangers, even more so than say, breast- or bottle-feeding in public. For every parent who views them as a necessary safety measure, there’s at least several more who view leashing a small child as demeaning or lazy or just plain weird.
I admit The Leash was absolutely a thing I was once awfully high and mighty about myself…pre-kids, anyway. Then I had a baby and had every pre-conceived notion about parenting and the kind of mother I was going to be (PRACTICALLY PERFECT IN EVERY WAY, OF COURSE) was promptly knocked out from under me.
And one day, not long after giving birth to baby #2, my 3 year old (who had limited communication skills and a way overactive fight-or-flight response to just about any sensory stimulation) dropped my hand in a crowded parking lot and TOOK. OFF.
And any judgement I ever felt for ANY parent who leashed a child for ANY reason took right off with him. Until you realize some kid are just runners, you just don’t know what it can be like.
That said, I never ended up buying a leash. I just…couldn’t. Mostly because I couldn’t handle the judgement, which I already felt I was getting plenty of when strangers observed my special needs child. (Not KNOWING he was special needs, of course, but in their minds, obviously too big to be acting the way he was or riding in our stroller or whatever.) I’m sure so much of that was all in my head, but I was still too close to my pre-kids self and mindset, and remembered how judge-y I once was.
Now, three kids later, I am all out of craps to give about what anyone thinks about my kids or my parenting. I’ve been more than a little tempted to leash my 4-year-old (if I didn’t know he was 100% bound to simply go boneless and sit on the floor in protest), and in retrospect there was one horrible experience at the airport that would have been made much easier if my middle son (then 5) had been on a leash or other restraint.
Strollers aren’t always an option, particularly double ones, and since we preferred to wear our babies in our Ergo, that left an ever-increasing number of small, easily distracted children floating around our outnumbered orbit. “Hold my hand, buddy,” I’d say a million and one times, only to have to drop their hands to attend to someone else or dig around my diaper bag and while I really really did want to trust them and teach them to be sensible and STAY PUT, in the real world that just didn’t always happen. A panicked look around, a mad dash in a guessed direction, a lost kid in a giant store, that weird feeling of relief and RIGHTEOUS FURY when you find them, usually completely oblivious to what they’ve just put you through.
And yet. I never bought a leash, and more than likely never will. And I’m not entirely sure I made that decision for the “right” reasons.
Photo Source: Mommy’s Helper on Amazon