When my oldest was just a baby, we were given a little monkey backpack that had a “leash” that would keep an active toddler from running off. I never used it, partly because I never thought about it, but partly because I was worried about the strange looks I might get. When I had another child before my oldest turned 2, there were a number of times that I thought about how handy that leash would be, but I never had the nerve to use it. A kid on a leash? It just seemed like something that might raise eyebrows.
Several years ago, we were touring Seattle with family and my sister-in-law had the same harness with her. She suggested that I put it on my 2-year-old daughter while her cousin Tanner sat in the stroller. We were walking near a busy street and it seemed like a good idea. Well, wouldn’t you know, we did get some horrified stares, and even a nasty comment or two. But the more I felt the judgmental eyes on India, the more I mused on the lot of her cousin Tanner, who was not only harnessed, but also strapped into a seat and unable to walk. Now, I’ve had one of my kids strapped into a stroller countless times in my parenting career. In three years time, I have never gotten a stare or negative comment for having a child in a stroller. But let a kid walk around with a harness, and boy hardy, people are pissed. And to be honest, on this particular outing, India seemed a lot happier than her cousin of the same age. She was walking, exploring, and feeling like a big girl while her cousin was strapped to a chair. Not to mention, she was getting more exercise.
It kind of changed my outlook on the leash thing. Or maybe it changed my outlook on the stroller . . . I don’t know. Now that I have four kids, there have been many times that I could have benefited from having a child tethered, so that they couldn’t run out into the street. Managing multiple small children is hard, and I’ve managed it by strapping kids into strollers. I’ve still never broken out that that monkey backpack buddy. But I certainly won’t judge anyone who does.
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