By Charlotte Hilton Anderson, REDBOOK
"Wook, Mommy! That lady has a puppy in the store!" But the little girl standing behind us at the grocery store was wrong. My son, about 3 at the time, was laying on the floor attached to me by a leash and caterwauling... so more like a cat in my estimation. And he enjoyed being on a leash every bit as much as a cat does, which is to say not at all. The reason he was on the leash -- a blue nylon harness that velcroed around his torso with a strap that I held around my wrist -- was because the last time we went to the store, he took off at warp speed, crawled up inside a clothing rack and hid for 20 minutes while I crawled around on the floor looking for tiny sneakers and getting progressively panickier. Oh and did I mention I was 8 months pregnant at the time? With his 4-year-old brother also in tow? Sprinting after him was not really an option.
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I bought the leash that day and have proudly been using it on my kids ever since. The leash has been a lifesaver for us. There is a year or two where children are old enough (and coordinated enough) to run away very quickly and yet are too young to fully understand and comply with all the rules of inhabiting public places. Given the general disdain in which many people hold kids, especially small ones running amok, you'd think they would be as enthused about my tethered tots as I am. But then you'd also think that weddings are for sharing your joy and not a money making endeavor and now there's Kim Kardashian.
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The general reaction we get in public is usually surprise and some laughter but I've been lectured by more than one stranger about my "cruel" parenting tactics. Really? I'm not beating him with it. I don't use it to tie him to his bed. He even asks to wear it sometimes just for fun (he's going through a cat phase, see above). And yet: "I hope you saved up enough money for his therapy!" called one smart aleck at the State Fair. "Don't worry, we've already got enough for a pet psychic!" I retorted. (No I didn't. I never come up with a good comeback until way too long after the fact.) But what's more cruel: keeping your child close via a gentle velcro tether or risking him run away in a parking lot and getting hit by the shuttle bus?
What do you think? Take our poll!
What's your opinion of leashes for kids?
-I think they're a little weird.
-I've never had to use one, but I don't judge other moms for it.
-Love them! It only takes losing your 3-year-old once in the mall before you realize the genius.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.