I have held off on this decision for many months now because of the stigma and judgement associated with the use of leashes. A quick Google search to try to find a suitable one today made me quite sure that my perceptions of the judgement are not unfounded.
I hope one day these people are blessed with as free a spirit as my son.
My child is a living breathing person with wishes and desires of his own and when I attempt to force mine on him he doesn’t like it. He behaves much like a caged beast that’s just been stabbed if I forcibly try to hold him against his will. He squirms screams and breaks out if I try pram him. He twists, turns and bellows if I am holding his hand and refuse to let it go when I am walking with him. He’s 2. So, it would seem, my choices are to appear abusive or to appear irresponsible.
Sometimes I have the time to teach him the bigger life lessons, sit down and get him on board so that he’ll be a decent well rounded person in the future but sometimes, realistically, I just don’t. That doesn’t make me a bad parent, that makes me a busy wife and mother of sometimes 3 children that has many responsibilities. Keeping my son alive is higher on that list than looking good to people who have no idea what they are talking about.
I lost my son at school on Friday. Not because I am an irresponsible parent who doesn’t keep an eye on my active toddler but because on Fridays I have 3 children and they all need me to give them some of my attention some of the time. Sometimes I need to put socks on the 5 year old or help him with his shoes, or zip up his rain jacket, sometimes I have to make eye contact with the 8 year old when I ask him how his day was, sometimes I have to look down into my wallet to get the right money or a card to pay for the groceries. That’s all it takes people. Me being responsible for the rest of my family too. To do that I have to look away for a bit. I am not super human.
Still I have been unable to get past the fact that so many people will take one look at me holding my son on a leash and judge me.
I have lived most of these last 2 years on tender hooks and stressed every time I go out into public because my child is a livewire and can not be trusted. I do not know what he will do next. He has no fear of cars, trains, roads, strangers, strange dogs or really any animals. So I need to watch him like a hawk and always, always be one arms length away from him in order to be able to ensure his safety. Add to this the constant state of sleep deprivation and you’ve got a lady on her last nerve. Would you really deny me a leash? Not to parent for me but to buy me a few extra seconds that might literally be the difference between life and death?
Why is it that we actually think that a child that is 5 point harnessed into a pram is more free than a child running but attached to his parent by a leash? Or a child kept in a baby carrier and sandwiched firmly to their parents stomach, we consider more respected than a child allowed as much rope as their parent can reasonable give them whilst still ensuring their safety?
My son ran twenty metres, in a few seconds, round a corner and between the legs of hundreds of other school goers and their parents, he ran out the school gates and straight into the street, I watched in horror as I got caught up in the crowds about ten steps behind him, unable to get to him. I had stopped to zip up the 5 year olds bag. He had handed me his bag and an assortment of other things when I collected him. I put everything inside the bag as I walked after them to retrieve my third charge. I did this so I would have my hands free to hold theirs as we crossed streets on the way to the car.
I was worried I was going to lose something as the bag jiggled with walking so I was trying to zip it up as I walked and I couldn’t quite manage it. So I stopped briefly, put the bag on a bench and zipped it. As I looked up I saw my 2 year old break into a run and he just didn’t stop. I chased after him as fast as I could but he had a head start and shorter legs that facilitated his sneaking through the crowds that I could only try and negotiate with. Is a leash really the wrong way to handle this situation?
For me, my child’s life is now more important than my self esteem and I will be getting a leash.