Remember growing up in the 70's and 80's and you would see a kid on a leash and you would stare with your mouth wide open? Your mom or dad might grumble, and surely somebody in the crowd would say something like, "....leashes are for dogs not kids.".
Those days are receding into the past. I am seeing more and more of those "safety harnesses" for kids when we go out in public. I would never say anything to another parent but it does make me uncomfortable. I just don't think it's right.
What is even worse is that in my son Michael's 4.5 years of life, I have had 14 different people recommend a harness for him! These were not trained medical professionals. These were well-meaning, and some not so well-meaning strangers. I just can't bring myself to put a leash on my kid, even calling it a safety harness doesn't make me feel better about using it. Part of being a mother means you occasionally have to break into a sprint to save your child from impending doom. My fat butt can certainly use the exercise.
Recently Erik and I were out with our herd at a St. Patrick's Day Fair. I saw a cute little girl on a teddy bear leash. Erik and I rolled our eyes at each other but didn't say anything out loud, mostly since I didn't want our kids to notice this little girl and say something rude. She was with her mother, and I started thinking well maybe her mom is here alone and maybe this girl is hearing disabled. Nope. Her father showed up with some tickets for the rides and starts talking to his daughter and she can hear fine. Two parents, one kid and you need a harness?!!!
Now I am sure you are thinking, wait a second you hypocrite, I thought you were all for a parent's right to choose. I am! I am not saying you can't leash your child, I am just saying I am very uncomfortable with the idea.
Here are the reasons I think putting a safety harness on a child would be acceptable:
1. Your child has a disability that puts him/her in danger. Obviously that makes sense.
2. You are in dangerous situation and you are parenting alone. An airport, a war zone, a ferry boat, a stampede etc.
That's it, I can only come up with two. Am I missing some obvious ones?
These are the reasons I can't bring myself to harness my children:
1. Have you ever tried to put a leash on a cat? Or ever see a video where they stick that lasso around an alligator's neck? Both feline and reptile lose their freaking minds when you do that! I am positive that is exactly what would happen if I tried to harness my childrens' energy. My daughter not so much, but my sons would rip my arm out of it's socket.
2. I would abuse it. Yep I am ashamed to admit that the urge to tie them to my side view mirror and go for a drive would be way too tempting. Or string them from the slide at the park and leave. OK, OK I wouldn't do that. But why set myself up to even think about it?
3. You breed 'em, you feed 'em. Or something like that. It's my fault I have 3 kids so I need to suck it up and teach them how to behave in public so that they don't need a leash. If you and your significant other together can't handle one typically developing child in public without putting a harness on them.................
4. It just doesn't look right. I realize that sounds stupid but hear me out. In other cultures grown men hold hands. In America grown men do not hold hands. If I see 2 gay men holding hands I don't even flinch, if I see 2 grown men from a culture where it's acceptable to hold hands I could care less, but if I see 2 straight American men hold hands...........it just doesn't look right. Unless they are deep in prayer or pulling each other off the gym/bar floor. I am not used to seeing it, and I know that's not a great reason, but it is a factor when it comes to my feelings about harnessed kids.
I am surely not alone in this am I?