Expecting a lot of hassle on the flight down to Deltona and back, we decided to take the unusual step of getting a leash for our child. There is a picture to the right, but even without it you can imagine what it is. I can’t remember whether Clancy brought it up first or I did, but when it was brought up the other person was already thinking about it. It made a lot of sense to do it this particular trip since I would be coming home with the little one separately from her.

From the get-go, our entire attitude towards it has been different. Though we both thought it was a good idea, she was very worried about judgmental strangers from the outset while I wasn’t worried about it at all. Some of my lack of worry is “Why would anybody object?” Here is an example:

What kind of people have we turned into the put our children in leashes? I mean…that’s like treating them no better than your dogs!! I don’t care how restless and uncontrolable they might get.

There’s a thing called a stroller! Or even better…don’ take them out. That way…they learn. They think ‘oh wow…when i act up i don’t get to go out and have fun. Let me behave so I don’t get strapped into the stroller or taken home.

And that, boys and girls, is called parenting.

But it mostly seems like a non-issue, for the most part. Most of the people responding to that little lecture said they approved of the leash. The author of this pro-harness piece said that she gets looks of disapproval, but most of the responses in the comment section are supportive.

Here’s an article:

For the general population of kids, a firm stance as a parent should be enough to keep a child from scooting off, said Susan Newman, a New York social psychologist and parenting expert who is a critic of the harnesses.

“To me, it’s like treating a child like a dog or an animal when in fact as a parent your job is to make the rules,” Newman said.

“The perception is, this is a parent who can’t control her toddler.”

Yeah, well, I can’t. At least not with 100% reliability. The vast majority of the time I can let her down and if I want to go somewhere she will take my hand when I ask her to. And that’s all good and fine. However, the airport isn’t a great place to test that theory. Nor is hanging around busy traffic. Because, you know, the one time you lose track of them…

It’s… a no-brainer, at least in some circumstances like a busy airport or walking around the street. Lain objected at first, but took to it pretty well when she realized that meant that she was more likely to be able to walk around (at least within a radius). And it’s so imminently practical on what basis is there really room for objection? Especially when dealing with a three year old or anyone at the age where it is something that they still have to learn. And, of course, if there were glaring eyes, I could care less.

That’s where gender plays a bit of a role. As a father, far less is expected of me. In fact, if someone did look disapprovingly at me at the airport, they were as likely to think my wife is negligent (for not being the one taking care of the little one) than I am.

There is also the more general way that Clancy and I look at the world differently. She expects a degree of confrontation with the world than I do. So an ambiguous response is more likely to be assumed as negative by her while positive by myself. And I’m probably less likely to notice other parents looking anyway. I didn’t notice any furrowed brows at all. There were a couple of people who thought it was funny. The lady behind the counter at the gate desk said she wishes those things had been around when her kids were little because they were always darting out in the middle of nowhere.

On the flight back, Lain mostly took to walking right behind me and holding on to the wheel of her stroller, which was over my shoulder. Which was fine except that she was in my blind spot, and periodically she would decide she wanted to sit down.

But no disapproving stairs noticed. And if any were missed, screw’em. This is the future, people.

Category: Road

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3 Responses to A Child On a Leash

  1. Michael Cain says:

    Ignore the people who stare or criticize. My mom had me on a leash while I was three any time we went downtown. Probably saved my life since I was, in her words, “smart, independent, and sneaky.” As I recall hearing the story, the man who corralled me in the crosswalk and took me back across the street just in time to meet my panicked mother coming out of the store told her, “Well, he certainly looked like he knew where he was going.”

    I have a granddaughter coming up on two-and-a-half who is also smart, independent, and getting rather sneaky. Perhaps we should have given my daughter a child harness for Christmas…

  2. RTod says:

    I am a big believer in freezing your child at the beginning of a long trip, and then just leaving them out to thaw once you arrive at your destination.

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