Judge me if you will, and you probably will. I have taken a shameful and illicit step that nonetheless, by its very nature, must remain painfully public. There is nowhere to hide on this one, no doors to close over my failure and no curtains to draw over the evil that has entered my drawing room. There is almost no defense for the place I have gone and the choice I have made, but perhaps you will cut me a little slack, anyhow.
I have bought a leash. A leash for my son. Call it by some other cute name if you can, but there is no denying that Benjamin now walks about at the end of a very short leash.
A leash is a sign that I see my child as a animal to be contained. It degrades his humanity and stifles his explorative desires. Instead of teaching him caution, I am one step short of putting him in a straight jacket.
Yeah, I get it. I know how strangers look at me, wondering whether I keep him in a cage at home to complete the dehumanization. But, since his explorative desires include runs through the parking lot at the grocery store, I find myself left with little choice.
He is big and he is heavy. He is strong and he is fast. Unlike his older brother, he does not look for ways to win my approval. He looks for ways to test the laws of gravity, traffic, and patience. He laughs with glee when he hears the word “no” and tries new and inventive ways to elicit it. I am too pregnant to carry his 27 pounds around all the time, assuming I still want to be walking by August.
So, my choices are few. I can limit him to the stroller, I can make him stay in the house all day long, or I can put him on a leash. Other than that, I can scoop his splattered remains off of the parking lot. I have chosen the leash. The leash allows him to try things; it allows me to hold his hand and let him walk; it means he doesn’t get the satisfaction of a panicked “NO!” quite as often as he would like.
So, judge me if you will. You will not be the first and you will not be alone. There are people way ahead of you in line – presumably people without children or with children like Zachary, who actually listens to what I tell him to do – who look at me as though I am using a cattle prod on the child.
I don’t care. Better leashed than dead.