Lest ye be judged

            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.

30 responses to “Lest ye be judged

  1. I could never find a leash for my youngest. If I could he would of been leashed. Screw people who judge you. I think most (if not all) mothers get the leash idea. I don’t know how many times David almost got killed by a car.

    I always feel that people look at me and think I need “the nanny” to reel him in or teach me how to parent. Some days life is so frustrating.

  2. I can imagine that a child who spends a lot of time testing the boundaries of the space/time continuum, might actually feel safer when leashed…

  3. I used to think that those things were awful and I equated them to what a person does to a dog. Then, when I had my own children, I too used those devices. As they grew, It connected form my wrist to theirs, then from my wrist to their belt loops. I used them to protect my children, to keep them from harm. Children can get hurt or disappear in the blink of an eye. I did what I felt necessary at the time to avoid such things.

    Let them judge what they know nothing about. You go on doing what is best for your child.

  4. I too thought the things were awful. Of course, that was when I had one super obedient child, and one mama’s boy that tried to never leave my side. And then I had my third…I never did get a leash, but Oh I have thought about it. Did you get one of those super cute ones that looks like a monkey? Those are my favorite.

  5. Oh, bah. Let the nosy parkers stare. I use a leash on Bean, and it is a lifesaver. We got the one that looks like a puppy.

    You are not tying him out on the lawn in the hot sun, for the love of cheese and toast. You’re using a perfectly sensible way of keeping your active toddler safe and close to you.

    If anyone gives you grief, let me know and I will come out there and beat them with wet noodles.

  6. So true!

    You gotta do what you gotta do right??
    It’s our job to protect them . . .even if it requires a leash . . .
    I’ve never actually bought one, but I’ve certainly considered it MANY times . . .:)

  7. I thought I was going to have to get one for Hobbes. For some reason, however, he actually responds to his super-responsible older brother’s commands. He still doesn’t listen to me well in parking lots, but as long as Calvin is around holding his hand, I don’t have to worry. Of course, my kids are so scrawny that I can still carry them when I need to. My back is thankful for the smallness genes.

  8. I never needed one, but I totally would have used one. My mother used one in the sixties. You do what you have to do.

  9. You live in LA and not an open meadow. No judgment here but it does sound as if you judge yourself. Or perhaps that’s just a rhetorical pose.

  10. I’ve been wondering if the poodle level of collar for our invisible fence would keep my little bear in the yard.

    (Just kidding. And I don’t blame you one bit!)

  11. I have always thought that mother who really can observe her child ALL THE TIME must be a superhero. A mother of two, who can observe both of them all the time – sorry, it´s a myth or she has extraordinarily calm kids. So I think that you´ve made the best choice there is.

  12. I think as long as your son doesn’t respond negatively, you’re fine. As someone said above, you’re not living out in the country and you have to make sure he’s safe.

  13. I say better leashed and well behaved than wild and dead.

    Don’t worry about the looks. I’ve gotten used to ’em.

  14. WHY do mothers judge each other? We’re already doing such a super job of judging ourselves… I think I would have more patience with the “animal treatment” argument if my own deal Children hadn’t spent most of their days pretending to be animals of one sort or another. A leash would have added to the fun! Heck Child 2 was a horse for a year or so and wore reins whenever possible.

  15. LOL. dude. I recently met a new mom friend for a playdate. As she was pulling her daughter out of the car she said, very casually, “I’m putting her on a leash. People look at me like I’m evil. But she doesn’t listen and she’ll run into the street”. I laughed a little uncomfortably and acted like it’s no biggie. Thing is, I’ve always talked shit about leashes. Until that day at the zoo with her and her daughter. Oh. My. God. I totally understand why she did it. She would have been chasing her around the zoo the entire time, that kid had so much insane energy and didn’t listen to, “No!”. Even ON the leash she was trying to climb into the flamingo pond. I left with my eyes open a little more. And an understanding not to judge so quickly next time I see a kid on a leash.

  16. Personally I think every mother has to do what she has to do to make it through certain stages of their children’s lives. For each mother, it’s a different stage. If you had heard the conversation I just had with my 17 year old daughter, you’d be judging me too. She requires a muzzle, not a leash. And maybe a crate in the basement.

  17. I’m in agreement with the other folks here. Before Kids–I would never have gotten the idea of the kid leash. Now–oh yes, I TOTALLY get it.

    Keep him safe. Keep yourself sane (as much as possible, anyway).

    To the judgers— Glass houses, people. Glass houses…

  18. You heard it here, Em. No judgment. I considered using one for my girl when she was younger. Just work on a few smart comebacks for anyone bitchy enough to make a remark, and don’t give it another thought. I’m definitely in the whatever works camp.

  19. If anyone judges you for the leash, send them my way and I’ll SMACK ’em.

  20. Actually I think a lot of people’s views of “leashes” for kids are changing… especially now that they make those cute ones that look like stuffed animals and backpacks and stuff! A kid who is old enough to walk isn’t going to be content to sit in a stroller all the time, and it can be hard to hang onto a sweaty little hand while you’re trying to shop or weave through a crowded place! With a harness you can keep your kid safe and within arms length!

  21. we’ve had issues with our kids that 99% of the people around didn’t get and i could see them judging me, but forget ’em. you do what you need to do. that boy needs to be safe and you need to be sane. you are awesome!!

  22. I used by baby-wearing sling as a leash (insert evil laughter)

  23. “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.”

    I get this. All of it. There is nothing like being a mother to make me eat crow over and over again. So I don’t judge anymore. And from someone who briefly lost her 3 year old in the mall for 4 minutes that felt like 4 hours, good for you on the baby-tether.

  24. As long as you don’t turn into one of those parents that uses the leash to kind of drag their kid along behind them while paying them no attention then more power to you. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Just, seriously. Don’t turn into one of those parents.

  25. I understand being too pregnant to carry his 27 lbs around. Mine is right on the cusp of following directions, but not really there yet, so he spends a lot more time in a stroller than he would like. But I know you’re right – whether or not you need a leash depends entirely on the temperament of your child.

    A friend of mine is a twin (can you imagine twin toddler boys?). He said he and his brother once ran in opposite directions in the parking lot from his mother. She went that day and bought leashes for them both. I would have, too.

  26. I used a leash unapologetically. Neither of my children were stroller sitters and were grievously unhappy if subjected to the humiliation and frustration. Everyone was FAR happier with the leash arrangement and my children were safe. And, being the parent of a spirited child, whose days were and are consumed with thoughts of not if, but how to thwart my authority….it was a failsafe that could not be foregone.

    Even if one does not agree with leash using, I don’t see how one can possibly fault a parent for trying to keep their children safe.

    And to the person who made the comment about dragging their children along and ignoring them…how many children have you seen sitting in a stroller for hours on end, fussing and fidgeting and aching to explore the world around them, only to be ignored so that Mommy can shop or socialize. That disgusts me far more than leashes ever could.

  27. Seriously, if you’re keeping your child safe, who cares what other people think??! I’m open to the idea of using one for the Little Mister when he’s running around, if he’s the type to attempt escape at every turn (which he shows every indication of being..).

  28. before i had a child I DID judge mothers with leashed children. but now… even though I never used one myself, I TOTALLY understand

  29. Damn straight, Emily. Better leashed than dead. You have to do what you have to do to protect him and keep him safe.

  30. Oh, I love you I love you I love you!!!! I SO want a lease for my die-before-obey son who refuses to hold hands and has no qualms about running into traffic. Yet, whenever I mention getting one – OH do I get an earful.