I will be the first to admit that I was a pretty critical person before I had my first son. I had an opinion about everything and passed some pretty harsh judgement on parents because I thought I knew better. And I was sure I would do a better job at parenting. My kids wouldn't act out in public. My kids wouldn't be loud in restaurants. My kids wouldn't take off running in the store. Guess what? My kids would. And they did. And they do.
Nothing schools you faster than parenthood. It hits you like this wonderful punch in the gut. It levels you, rebuilds you, and makes you sturdier. It takes a judgmental know-it-all, such as myself, and transforms them into someone capable of humility and grace (if you allow it to). So many of the things I swore would never happen to me have happened, and so many of the things I swore I would never do, I've done.
One such thing, something I ridiculed relentlessly, was putting a leash on a child. I couldn't believe parents were so out of control of their children that they had to leash them. Why couldn't they just hold their kid's hand? Were they really that lazy? That disconnected? How could they not be embarrassed? You wanna know how? Because it's genius.
There is a sweet spot in toddlerhood where your little one will no longer be content in a stroller and will want to walk around like the big kid they so confidently are. You'll think they'll just hold your hand and everything will be fine. They're so tiny and you're so strong and there's no way they could break free and bolt... Yes. Yes there is. Or, if you're like me and 6' tall, holding your toddler's hand requires you to conform to a sort of granny posture, hunched over so that you can actually reach them. Don't get me wrong, I love holding my boys' hands. I love walking side by side, hand in hand with my toddler. That is, when he actually does it. Cause, here's the thing, toddlers are unpredictable and freakishly strong and remarkably fast. And they will run. Oh my gosh will they run.
Since we've entered this aforementioned sweet spot, outings with my toddler have lost a great deal of appeal. Any time we take him out he's either crabby to be stuck in the stroller, he's trying to wriggle free from one of our arms as we carry him, or he't trying everything in his little two-year-old power to yank his hand free. And once he gets free, it's off to the races. I can't even tell you how many time my husband and I have talked about how badly we wished there was an easier way to take him out without having to case him down or keep him confined.
I guess it's because I had always had such a negative opinion on leashes for kids, but it never even crossed my mind that there is a reason such a thing exists. It wasn't until I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and I saw a friend post about putting a child's harness on her daughter, and how beneficial it had been to be able to let her walk freely while still being able to keep her safe. Once you hear it explained like that, it makes a whole lot more sense, huh?
I decided we would give it a try and started shopping around for something practical and cute. I settled on the Skip Hop Zoo Safety Harness (found here http://www.skiphop.com/zoo-little-kid-safety-harness) and I can't wait to try it out! Once we've had ample time to use it I'll give you all a review. I can honestly say that I never thought I would be so excited to put a leash on my kid, but the idea of making outings with the kids a little more hassle-free and fun for them is so, so appealing.
I know it's a little silly looking, and I know it's easy to make snap judgments, but just remember we are all in this parenthood thing together. Even if we approach things differently. Even if we don't agree with ever decision someone else makes. Even if we think we know better. Even then, be kind and open minded. And, to every parent I ever gave the stink-eye to for putting your kids on a leash, I get it now, and I'm sorry.