Last weekend, we took our 22-month-old son to brunch at a downtown Raleigh restaurant, the kind where a live band plays jazz while the staff serves mimosas in slender champagne flutes garnished with ripe strawberries.
From the moment we rolled the stroller through the front door our son would not sit still. He screamed and wriggled out of my arms when I tried to put him in the high chair. We asked for a booster seat but trying to get him into that proved to be just as challenging. My husband and I took turns eating while the other one walked him down the street, around the inside of the restaurant and held him up so he could gawk at the fish tank.
He was restless but not running amok although I got a scare when he made a dash for the front door and attempted to exit onto the busy street. Being a worst-case scenario thinker I started envisioning all of the ways he could have caused harm to himself had he escaped our grasp. On the ride home I asked my husband how he felt about getting one of those backpacks with the leash. They seem practical especially in crowded environments such as street festivals, amusement parks and airports. Losing your child in a crowd is much worse than feeling guilty about tethering him. On some level, the leash gives him a little freedom to explore while giving you a sense of security.
Or is it a false sense of security? What are you teaching or not teaching your child when you put him in a harness?
It is a hotly contested debate. A divide exists even within my family.
When I told my brother I was considering a toddler harness, he said,”What you need is to put him on a mental leash.” Point taken. It is our job as parents to teach our children respect for authority. On the other hand, my mother offered to buy us a child harness ASAP. The thought of her grandson running off and getting lost or running into a dangerous situation puts her on the side of safety first and above all.
I can see both of sides of the debate and am feeling conflicted. To leash or not to leash? That is the latest of many parental questions.