The Husband and I took Princess Trouble and Little Man to a community carnival/Family Night Out this past week. It was sponsored by the company that oversees the on-post housing here and included free food (the best kind - not only did I not have to cook, the food was FREE!!!), fun stuff for the kiddos (bouncy chamber, face painting, balloon animals made by a REAL clown, etc.), static displays of military vehicles (there was SUPPOSED to be a helicopter too but those lazy Warrant Officers didn't make it), and a live exhibition of the Military Police working dogs.
While I wanted in line for Princess Trouble's balloon animal, The Husband took the kiddos to watch the dog exhibition. About half way through the performance, as the German Shepherd is trying to take down the "criminal", a little boy about one and a half heads out on to the field. It took a moment for the MPs to see him but when they did one tackled the dog (who was also on a long leash) and one tried to tackle the boy. Obviously, the boy, Zachary...his name was taped on the back of his shirt...was used to this type of behaviour from adults because he tried to elude the MP. It took the poor MP about 30 seconds to catch this kid - he obviously didn't have kids of his own or else he would have just snatched Little Zachary up by his hair and called it a day. Instead, he was trying to be gentle. Once the MP finally grabbed hold of Little Zachary, he waited patiently for Little Zachary's parents to come frantically running up to claim him.
He announced over his megaphone that he had Little Zachary - who was doing everything in his power to escape yet again - in his possession and still, no parents.
Finally, Little Zachary was taken to the announcer's podium and a louder announcement was made for his parents. FINALLY, someone claimed Little Zachary. In the meantime, the MPs had to collect themselves - this had really startled them. I don't blame them. Not that I don't trust German Shepherds but those dogs were doing their job at that moment and who is to say that Little Zachary would not have been taken down like the "criminal" that the dog was originally pursuing? How awful would THAT have been??
There is a point to my story but first I have to add another story.
Yesterday on the military spouse website I frequent, a friend of mine posted a question asking if she would be considered a bad mommy if she were to use a child leash on her rather willful 3 year old. I came in to the discussion late and by the time I did, there were several comments supporting her decision. But there was one that dissented. Now, I'm all for opinions. But this opinion came from someone who does not have children and has never been in a position such as this. For some reason this, combined with what I witnessed at the community carnival and some of the things I have witnessed at the commissary/Wal-Mart/Target/etc. just set me off. It doesn't take much these days.
First off, as a parent, my job is to ensure the safety of my children at all times. The incident with my friend that prompted the idea of a leash involved her child getting away from her in a store, getting through the automatic doors before she could grab him, and him RUNNING out toward the parking lot. Obviously, not safe. If putting a leash on a child is the way to keep them safe, DO IT. Sometimes strollers are not feasible. Carrying a 30+ pound child for more than a few minutes is tiring for my studly husband, let alone for me. And sometimes, it is not feasible to wait to be able to leave the children home in order to run errands. So leash them.
I am sure that there are those of you who are aghast at the idea of putting a leash on a child. You're thinking, "They aren't dogs. If you can't control them, don't have them." First, pick your jaws up off the keyboard and close your mouths. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. But I don't want to hear it. If I feel that leashing my child is what will keep them safe, then I will do it and opinions be damned. You know what they say about opinions anyway.
In MY opinion (which, on this site anyway, is the only one that counts), letting your child run amok in a public place is more abhorrent than putting some kind of restraint upon them. Letting a child put themselves in danger is more deplorable than taking steps to make sure they are safe.
We live is a dangerous world. When I was a kid, I remember throwing a bit of a tantrum in a store because I didn't get what I wanted. I remember my mom picking me up, swatting me on the rear, plopping me back down on the floor, and WALKING AWAY. I could NOT imagine doing that in this day and age. Most everyone reading this is old enough to remember Adam Walsh. It only takes a split second for someone to snatch a child. It only takes a split second for a child to run through automatic doors and out into a busy parking lot. It only takes a second. As much as I would love some alone time these days, that is not how I want to get there. It would KILL me if anything were to happen to either of my children.
So, will I leash them? Hell yes. I'll duct tape them to the ceiling if it keeps them safe (by the way, "one hundred mile per hour"tape works better than duct tape for those of you who care...). In fact, when we PCS'd from Alaska to Alabama and took the ferry from Alaska to Bellingham, Washington I bought a leash for Princess Trouble. She was a year old at the time and walking all over the place. The LAST thing I wanted to do was to have to dive into the frigid northern Pacific Ocean to fish her out because she had toddled off the edge. I didn't need it and it is still in its original packaging in the closet. I would have offered it to my friend but I suspect I might need it for Little Man when the time comes.
I wish more people were like my friend. I wish more people kept a closer eye on their kids. I wish, I wish, I wish...