Xavier and me walkingMy son is running. He’s no Usain Bolt, but he’s pretty quick. Rumor has it, he will only get faster. So the question is: Will I use a restraint for him, one of those backpacks shaped like an animal that has a really long tail? The answer: No! I will not put a leash on my son.

His safety is my chief concern, so I don’t care that the harness might embarrass him or make him look like an ancient Mike Myer’s sketch on Saturday Night Live. (And I do allow concessions for children with medical issues that may make a restraint a requirement and for parents who have more than one child to keep an eye on). But if you have only one child, like me, you should be able to keep your little one out of harm’s way when walking down the street.

First step: Put down the cell phone. I see this all the time. Parents walking and celling at the same time. If you are walking with your child, there is nothing more important than your child. Texting while walking is a no-no. Talking on the phone while walking is a no-no. Facebooking while walking is a no-no. Wait until you get to the park or the library or Grandma’s house, some place with four walls, and then you can ignore your real family to play with your fake one.

When my son and I walk down the street, I’m looking at him with brief glances to scan our surroundings. If I need to look somewhere other than at him for an extended time, the first thing I do is hold his hand.

When we walk, I am on the street side, and he can amble without any restraint. If he wants to be on the street side, I am holding his hand (or wrist, when he tries to pull away from me). This isn’t negotiable.

So Daddy’s arm will be the restraint, along with stern looks and sterner warnings. But leashes? No way.

Do/did you use a harness? Why or why not?

Image via Angela Johnson Meadows