Leashes belong on pets. Children are not pets. How hard is it to hold your child’s hand? Why would you subject your child to such humiliation? Putting a leash on your kid just shows you’re a lazy parent. It shows you’d rather not be bothered with actually watching your kid. Are you trying to get attention? Do you think it’s funny to watch two sweet little boys being “walked” by their mother? Anyone who puts a leash their child is a terrible parent. Overprotective and paranoid…and…and…
And so it goes (I imagine) in the minds of complete strangers who are likely judging me as I stroll along with my 20 month old twins wearing their adorable little monkey leashes. No, thankfully I’ve never had anyone say these things to me directly, but some of the stares I’ve gotten say enough. Yes, I put leashes on my boys. Here’s why.
When my boys were still in their infant carriers I couldn’t wait for them to start walking. I mean, my arms were plenty grateful for their newfound strength after months of carrying two car seats all day long, but I wanted my boys to start exploring the world. I remember seeing a picture of a mom and her twins walking hand in hand and it looked so beautiful to me. The mom was smiling, the twins looking up at her and they looked like the type of kids who would always respond with a “yes ma’am.” It was adorable and I wanted to share moments like that with my boys. And then John and Phoenix finally started walking. I decided to test out their new skills while out alone with them at a mall playground. Yeah, I know. It was a genius idea right? Crowded playground, all alone, two curious toddlers. What could go wrong? I’d always heard the joke that twins will always walk in opposite directions, but no one EVER stressed that the little boogers don’t walk: they RUN. They run fast as all hell. My boys and I put on quite a show and I’m almost positive one mother was looking for the tip jar. Once I finally wrestled John and Phoenix back into their mini SUV (aka double stroller), I went home feeling beaten. They’d be in a stroller till they were 14. I was NOT doing that again.
After I’d had something to eat (yay! I remembered to eat!) and relaxed a bit later that day, I went into problem-solving mode. Every problem has a solution. I decided my boys deserved the opportunity to explore this world and shouldn’t miss out because their mama couldn’t handle two kids at once. I consulted my parenting expert, Google, and read up on leashes for children. I went out that’s same night and bought two very cute, very controversial, child leashes. (By the way, I’m kidding about Google. The Internet has A LOT of terrible parenting advice. A LOT. Always tread carefully.)
I’d learned my lesson with our mall playground performance and wasn’t ready to do an encore for any crowds any time soon, so my husband and I decided to try the leashes when we were together. We went to Six Flags to see if I’d be able to do this alone in the future. The mission was a failure. They pulled on the leashes and refused to walk unless we let go. We didn’t give up. In time, they began to understand it was either the leashes or the stroller and a couple months later we are now at the point where they’re happy to wear them knowing they’ll be able to walk alone. I’ve taken them back to Six Flags, shopping, parks and despite some typical toddler mishaps here and there it’s been great. Of course we don’t use them ALL the time. When my husband is with me we each take charge of one of the boys but it’s nice to have them handy just in case. We still get the stares, most seeming amused, others confused, and a couple just showing blatant disgust, but c’est la vie in any given scenario right? People will have something to say regardless of what you do so always do what YOU feel is best for your child.
My role as a parent is not to appease society or to do solely what makes me “look good” as a parent. My role is to give my little humans lots of love, nurturing, and PROTECT them at all costs. Children are naturally curious and most don’t have a full sense of what real danger is. I do my best to raise great kids, but quite frankly, my little clan consists of some very active, curious, little “brats” who sometimes don’t care to listen to my “stay right next to me” pleas. It’s called being a kid. I consider myself to be a preventative parent and I am always extra vigilant when we are out in public. The fact of the matter is, anything can happen no matter how careful you are. It only takes a second for a child to get lost in a crowd. If having my twins wear a safety harness (the “correct” term but it has too many syllables for me) gives me added peace of mind, I am happy to tolerate the judgements of strangers.
The other day Phoenix walked up to me with his monkey leash. He gestured for me to put it on him. I complied. Once it was snapped on, he put the leash in my hand and said “C’mon…c’mon” while pushing me towards our front door. He wanted to go outside. I’ve never owned a dog but isn’t that what they do? All I could do was laugh and wonder if I should teach him to say “woof, woof” when strangers stared. No, I’m totally kidding, I wouldn’t do that. But I might ask if they’d like to pet him next time.