As we approach the height of vacation season, when families make many a voyage to new, exciting, crowded locations that require a lot of walking, millions of parents will plan this time by making decisions about how to survive the fun. How many snacks to bring; when to take bathroom breaks; where and when to take naps and, of course, how the little ones will get around. Some choose baby carrier, others a stroller, but no choice is as controversial as the kid leash. I am here to defend the leash, because using a kid leash doesn't make you a bad mom.
First and foremost: we have way bigger problems than deciding whether or not a harness on a child is damaging, lazy, ridiculous, or any other pejorative term used to describe parents who use leashes on their kids. Seriously, I don't even know how one develops a particularly vociferous or negative opinion on this. Especially considering, in recent news cycles, parents are being blamed for not watching their kid closely enough. Whether it's a young boy falling into a gorilla pit at a zoo, or a young boy being dragged into a lagoon by an alligator; parents who don't have leashes on their kids are being attacked for not "watching their child closely," and parents who do leash their kids are being attacked for being "too cautious," and not allowing their children to experience freedom.
If you don't like baby leashes, that's fine! Don't use them. There are a million other child conveyance options out there for you. What's the point in getting bent out of shape if someone else goes for it? It's madness, folks. We must end this madness. So, in an effort to combat that madness, here are a few reasons why choosing to harness your kid, doesn't make you a bad mother. We're all just trying to do our best.
Kids Never Pay Attention To Their Surroundings
You guys, children are so absurdly oblivious I can hardly believe it sometimes. Do you know how many times my four year old has been kicked in the face at the playground because he never pays attention to the kids swinging on the swing set? Neither do I. I've lost count. Every time I think, after making sure he's all right and giving him a kiss, "Well, that'll teach him," and every time I'm wrong because it just keeps happening. Children are (necessarily) egocentric daredevils with no sense of their own frailty or mortality. Leashes help keep that in check.
Crowds Are Terrifying
Things can get chaotic and dicey in a crowd. I once lost one of my children for about 30 seconds at Disneyland, and it was terrifying. We were easily separated and, among a wild sea of other kids, we lost sight of each other. That in and of itself is plenty good reason to use a leash. Compound that with the not terribly likely but terribly real fear of "stranger danger" and it's like #TeamLeashForLife.
Traffic Is Terrifying
Between kids not paying attention to where the hell they're going and way, way too many drivers not paying attention to what's going on around them (and, to be fair, the fact that kids are often hard to see from a car) it's a wonder every child isn't leashed to their parents until they're at least sixteen years of age. I mean, I can't be the only mother who is deathly afraid of some rogue car and/or my rogue child, colliding, right?
If The Kid Is On A Leash, The Kid Doesn't Mind
Because if a kid doesn't like one, you will know. My oldest hated it and would not move a step if one were attached to his backpack. It was just a whining and/or shouting sorrow-fest to which there was no end unless I, reluctantly, took the damn leash off of him. So, if you see a kid on a leash and roll yours eyes over "that poor child stuck on a leash," save it. That kid is totally fine. In fact, they're probably delighted that they get to wander about at their own pace. Speaking of which...
Leashes Are A Good Way To Teach Kids How To Walk Together And Keep Up While Simultaneously Keeping Them Safe
Kids love to feel grown up, but putting kids in a grown up situation runs a very high risk of spectacular failure because, well, their judgement and coordination are crap. A kid leash is a great way to be like, "You walk on your own, child, away from mommy! You don't even have to look at me or hold my hand. You do you!" without actually having to really worry about what will happen. It's like putting training wheels on a bike.
Leashes Are Handy As Hell
For real though. You can stick one of those things in your purse or diaper bag or whatever and that's it! No need for an enormous, bulky stroller that they may or may not even wind up using and then you look like the crazy person walk with their invisible baby. Just grab the leash and go.
Kids Think Bolting Away From Adults Is A Funny Game
And it's not. It's really, really not. I cannot, for the life of me, convince my toddler of this fact.
Holding Hands With A Small Child For An Extended Period Of Time Can Be Way More Annoying Than One Would Think
Children don't move as fast and their little palms are sweaty and sticky and they wind up not paying attention to where they're walking and step on your feet or whatever. I mean, why do they always insist on holding your hand that is also the side you're carrying your purse on, so your purse is always sliding down your arm and your muscles start burning and you kind of just want to cut your arm off? It's a hassle. With a leash, well, everyone goes at their own pace, they don't whine about having to hold your hand, and your bag stays in place. Glorious.
Strollers Are No More Dignified Than Leashes
Perhaps the biggest argument I always hear about leashes for kids is that "leashes are for dogs!" Well, then what are our options? Walk with the child (which, as we've stated, comes with some very annoying challenges) or a stroller. How exactly is a stroller, wherein you strap a mobile child to a chair and cart them around, any more dignified like a leash? Also, dogs use strollers now, too!
They're Super Cute
Have you seen the ones that look like your kid is being hugged by a monkey?! Who doesn't want to see their kid being hugged by a monkey?! That's adorable!
Judgers Are Going To Judge No Matter What You Do
Because if you parent in order to appease Judgy McJudgersteins, no one is ever going to be happy. The judgmental people always find something to nitpick. If you forgo the leash upon their scrutiny and put your child in a stroller, they'll arch an eyebrow at the type of stroller you bought. If you decide to walk holding your child's hand, they will scoff as your child whines that you're walking too fast or too slow or struggles against you in any way. Think about it this way: if some people are willing to judge parents whose child was killed by an alligator rather than extend heartfelt condolences, what chance do we stand against those jerks?