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.