The Good & The Bad Of Toddlers On Leashes

Rebecca Eckler looks back on her pre-parenthood judgments and reevaluates them as a parent


Image via Mommalouges

Sometimes it is possible to be a hypocrite as a parent. Or, rather, what you once believed to be true, or not true, you may suddenly change your tune and think, “Hey, I’ve changed my mind. Why did I ever think that was the wrong way to parent?”

I always used to joke that it’s a women’s prerogative to change her mind (and cry if she wants too!). Now, I think I can broaden that to say, “It’s any parent’s prerogative to change their mind.” (And cry if you want too!)

I’m talking, specifically, about seeing toddlers on leashes. I absolutely hated seeing toddlers on leashes in airports or in the mall. Of course, I never, ever said anything to parent’s who had their toddlers on leashes. I tried not to stare, for fear I’d have a judgmental (perhaps, disgusted?) look on my face.

I always thought, “Toddlers are not animals!” In fact, I would go as far as to say I found it abhorrent to see toddlers on leashes.

And then I had Holt.

Holt began walking long before he turned one. Which means, a few months after he turned one, he was running. Which means, by the time he turned two, he was running faster than Ben Johnson (on steroids or not).

The other day, I was in a store paying for something, with Holt standing at my side. In the 3 seconds it took to type in my pin code for an Interact transaction, I looked down and saw that my son was no longer beside me.

“Where’s my kid?” I asked the store clerk, panicking, and my heart pounding. Well, my son was not only NOT in the store, he had run out of the store and was half way down the block.

Again, I say this happened all within three damn seconds. Or, maybe, five seconds, tops.

I made the mistake of telling my mother-in-law this story. I then received numerous phone calls after from her, telling me how careful I have to be with my own son. She’s coming from a good place, of course.

But, honestly, what mother of a baby/toddler, who has just learned to run, hasn’t kind of “lost” their kid, even if it was in a matter of seconds and only for a few seconds.

Luckily, Holt was just fine, laughing his little butt off, while I wondered if I was having a stroke.

My mother-in-law worried that he could have been kidnapped. I was more worried that he could have run onto the street. So, as a woman and as a parent, it’s my prerogative to change my mind. And I have.

I now AM going to buy a leash for Holt, because frankly, the kid loves to run and he refuses to hold my hand, and though I do hate the idea of putting him on a leash, I think it is a necessity now. I rather him be on a leash, than running out into traffic, or losing him in a busy mall.

So now I’ll be the one who may get judgmental stares from other parents who don’t believe – as I once did – that toddlers should be on leashes, like dogs. I will need to pretend not to notice the stares of disapproval and just get over it. But, hey, at least I’m not putting a muzzle on my kid’s face. Now THAT would be wrong.

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