Friday, August 27, 2010

Is the Pendulum Swinging Back?

I am embarking on a new volunteer job that requires a criminal records check.     I was pretty sure I didn't want Matthew to be able to run around the police station while I was doing my business there so I hooked him up to his harness while in the parking lot.  As I stood in an office, waiting for the officer to process my paperwork she glanced up at Matthew and asked me if I ever got rude remarks about having him "on a leash".  I told her I didn't really, and more than once I have been asked where I bought it.

It seems that when this officer had children many years ago she was told by a couple of old biddies that she was being mean by having her child on a harness.  She went on to explain that she ran out to buy one after her child narrowly missed being run over by a car on a busy street.

Fast forward about half an hour.  We are now at the library and since we had to cross a busy and dimly lit parking garage, I put Matthew's harness back on--he was not in the mood to walk nicely with me and hold hands.  Once we got inside another woman glanced down at me and asked me yet again if I have ever been accused of being mean for having my boy on a leash.  She also used one on her little ones (now my age) and had to suffer negative comments from rude strangers.

I don't use the harness all the time--I do like my boy to be able to run free when it is appropriate, but in crowded places like the mall or when we went to the fair this spring, I am so very thankful I made the investment.  To me, letting Matthew have the chance to walk around and get tired out is much better for him than being tied up in a stroller all the time.  It is also a lot easier to pack a little harness in my purse than it is to lug our stroller around.

Are harnesses one of those things that fell out of fashion, but are back in style again?  Can I be hopeful and think that people are becoming more accepting of choices parents make now?  Maybe I give off a "mind your own beeswax" attitude that discourages rude comments.  (Oh wait.  Strangers save those for me and my body--they leave my kids out of it)

I can't explain it, but I will definitely take words of encouragement whenever they are given.


Stacey said...

I think the cutification (not a word...) of most harnesses on the market today is helping the acceptance of them. I remember my parents had one for my sister - it was leather. And that's it. But put a bit of fur and some googly eyes on it and it's more acceptable.

And I've already got my harness picked out for Maddy. And some not so gentle responses if I should get accused of being a bad parent in public.

Ami said...

Before I had children, I occasionally saw a child on a leash. I was horrified and self-righteously said, "When I have children, I will never do that to them! My god!!"

Matt got one of the hand hold variety... sort of like a boingity telephone cord, one end on his wrist, one end on mine.

And when I needed to use it in the Phoenix airport because he ran around like crazy at 18 months, no one said a word.

We didn't use it much, but it was handy on occasion.

Didn't use one with Lyssa... just confined her to her stroller when we were out because she was a screamer/fit thrower and I didn't need the comments that would have come if I'd had her on a leash and had to DRAG HER EVERYWHERE.


Anonymous said...

Like your previous poster, I had a similar "handholder" which attached to my wrist at one end and my son's at the other. Rarely used it, but it was very useful at airports with a small child in tow and lots to carry.

Carolyn said...

Hello, my name is Carolyn, and I was one of those children who wore a leash in the 70's after my mother lost me in the mall....

(When I outgrew the leash, I remember trying to use it on our cockapoo, wanting him to pull me around the yard on our toboggan.)

Tell us more about this volunteer job???