If I Weren’t So Embarrassed, I Would Totally Use A Leash On My Runaway Child
Since having kids, I’ve been freaked out by traffic. Parking lots, busy streets, even driveways have become safety hazards for me when I’m out with my children. Usually we stick to the sidewalks, but not always. There have been numerous instances of waltzing through intersections, meandering along curbs and worst of all, weaving through parked cars.
When each boy started nursery school, they developed an insatiable appetite for freedom. The preferred destination? Parking lots. I remember picking up my eldest, now 9, from school and within seconds of leaving the building, he’d be heading straight into the carpool lane. Needless to say, the vice-grip-hand-hold became de rigueur. It was a phase he eventually grew out of – but not before teaching his younger brother exactly how it was done.
And so, by the time my second son, now 7, started nursery he, too, hit the streets whenever possible. But with him, I was prepared. Doors would spring open and my hand would immediately go for his coat/knapsack/whatever body part I could grasp. My quick-draw-McGraw reflex surprised even myself. But what was I going to do? Use a leash? No way.
I’d seen those parents. The relaxed ones. The ones walking through malls, airports, even parks, while their little ones meandered happily. On their leashes. Sometimes they wore full-on harnesses, though more often than not the leash was disguised as a backpack. The kids would strap their snuggly Elmo or monkey or puppy on to their backs, while the parents would hold on to the tail-as-strap. I couldn’t help but stare. And judge. These were children, not pets. How could these parents leash them? What was wrong with holding hands? Or even putting them in a stroller to keep them close? [tagbox tag=”children’s safety”]
And then my third child discovered the joys of the open roads. This guy gave a whole new meaning to the word “bolt.” In part, it was my fault. My vigilance isn’t what it used to be. As my older boys have grown up (and calmed down), I haven’t had to be as worried about taking them into the streets. So when my 3-year old dashed into the school parking lot the first time, I chased him. The second time, I grabbed him. And from then on I simply frog-marched him to and from school – or any other outdoor public place we happened to be in. He soon learned to walk by my side or, in worst-case scenarios, find himself thrown over my shoulder.
And then a few weeks ago he disappeared. My husband and I had taken separate cars to a party. My son insisted on going home with his daddy, so I left. Moments later my man called, asking me if I’d taken our youngest son home. Sure enough, he’d taken off while my husband tied up our other son’s shoelaces. Luckily, the mad dasher was found by a lovely woman, a stranger who spotted him running through the parking lot.
I’m now reconsidering my view on the leash. If I could only get over the judgments from other parents – like myself – I’d buy one. Instead I’m working on my vice grip and shoulder lifts. At least until my son turns 4.