There are many, many things we say we would never, ever do if we had children -- before we actually have the children. Or things we naively declare we'd never do to our toddler when our kid is still a baby and we have no experience taking care of a Tasmanian Devil, i.e., 2-year-old. I myself remember inwardly judging the way one particular set of parents handled their tot when my first baby wasn't even crawling yet ... and how, a couple of years later, their actions would make a whole lot more sense to me.
I believe they call that "eating crow"?
Anyway, the initial "I'd never!" moment happened at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC, where we lived when my daughter was born. I don't remember why we were there that day -- I think we had friends in from out of town who wanted to see the dinosaurs -- but the museum was ridiculously crowded, filled with tourists and fanny packs and cameras flashing.
The throng of people didn't bother me. Thanks to our handy-dandy, never-leave-home-without-it baby sling, my daughter was safely attached to my hip.
I guess that's why I was so shocked when I spotted a nearby toddler on a leash and his miserable-looking parents. I'd seen kids on leashes before: You know, the kind that go around a toddler's wrist on one end and a parent's wrist on the other. I'd even the seen harness-style contraptions that attach one parent's wrist to a kid's torso.
This, I'd never seen -- one of the latter styles with TWO leashes hooked up to the kid's mid-section, each leash hooked up to a different parent's wrist.
WHAT?! I remember thinking. That child is 2 years old, tops, and one leash isn't enough to keep him in line?? Does he have superhuman strength? Is he The Bionic Toddler?
Those parents, I thought, are bats**t crazy. Good luck to that kid's future therapist.
Fast-forward about two years, when I spent the better portion of most days wondering whether I was being karmically punished for judging those parents. Like when I'd be walking down the sidewalk with my daughter and she'd suddenly break into a demonically fast sprint and go careening toward the corner, where cars whizzed by obliviously. Damn, I wish I had a leash! Or when we were out shopping and within five seconds of walking into a store, she would disappear, concealing herself in a carousel rack of dresses and refusing to answer me when I called. (Hide-and-seek isn't fun when you don't know if your kid is actually hiding or was just snapped up by a pedophile.)
This is why those parents had that double-leash, I would think, slapping myself on the forehead. What a fool I was!
I could never bring myself to actually go out and buy a leash for either of my kids, but I never again rolled my eyes at parents who did. Toddlers are reckless, unpredictable, and fast as hell! Putting a kid on a leash is a whole lot better than taking the risk that he'll run out into traffic.
Would you put your toddler on a leash?
Image via Jim Simonson/Flickr