Monday, 21 October 2013

Drop the Leash

I've had limited amount of exposure to toddler boys until I became a mom.  Previously my experiences reflect time spent with my little brother D and some children I used to babysit for.  In that time and since, something has become inherently clear to me: little boys dedicate over 50% of their awake hours to: suicide/murder.*  In the past two weeks we have struggled with Jack and his disregard for self-preservation.

At home he figured out how to unlock the front door.  Did I mention that we were in the middle of replacing our porch railing and Jack was just one chain lock away from plummeting into the giant renovation dumpster one story below?  He's also been practicing the baby gate pole vault (no pole required).

Jack in time-out following a burst of speed onto a bicycle path at a local park.

In public we've hit an impasse where the kids both want to walk rather than be strapped to us, a stroller or a shopping cart, yet walking/running skills supersede listening skills.  For short errands we are encouraging the minions to walk, which has been incredibly successful for Molly who ALWAYS holds an adult's hand in a parking lot, roadway and actually stops when you tell her to.   For Jack it has been a little (A LOT) more stressful as he sees each excursion as sensory exploration seeking to touch every object he passes, lick anything germ filled and disgusting,  manage to doddle at a cross walk only to enter a spirited 100 metre dash towards a giant unknown dog while screaming, "DOGGY!" at the top of his lungs just a few minutes later.

Below is the debate on whether or not we employ the use of the harness for Jack.  Chris and I have been on both sides of this debate, together and separately so long as little Jack's feet hit the ground running.  To date we have used the harness once to prevent Jack from lunging into a cooking fire while camping.  It was an epic failure and he dangled screaming like a possessed marionette the entire duration of the 20 minute experiment.

Hence I Unleash The Great Harness Debate:

AGAINST: Your child is not an animal, you shouldn't put them on a leash. 
FOR: A harness and leash protect dogs (or toddler boy puppies) from getting run over by cars, lost or hurt, period.

AGAINST: It's lazy parenting.
FOR: And it's aerobic parenting when we have to chase down a disobedient toddler who's on the loose while yelling, "FREEZE" at the top of our lungs?

AGAINST: If you treat your child like an animal, they will act like an animal.
FOR: Pets need to be housebroken and trained, so do children.  It's part of my job as a parent, leash or no leash.

AGAINST: Other parents (people) will judge you.
FOR: It is hard not to judge a parent of any screaming toddler, whether they are carried over the shoulder or secured via a sturdy piece of rope.

AGAINST: How will they ever learn if you keep them on a leash?
FOR: Like anything else, with practice, under the supervision of a care-giver.  I am guessing that these kids are not just tied to inanimate objects everywhere and allowed some free range play.

 If Jack is behaving and holding hands and walking close by he can get by under the watch full eye of one adult.  So far the best solution we've found when Mr. Jack doesn't want to hold hands and behave is to put him under the strictest possible watch.  We make him hold both Molly's hand and an adult's hand.  So far Major Molly has been able to keep him in line.  In the mean-time there may or may not be a harness in the trunk of our car, just in case. 

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*Cause it's much more fun if you take your sister down with you. 


  1. My mom put my sister on a leash when she was Jack's age. She only had to do it once. My sister listened to "hold my hand/your sister's hand, please" from thereon after and did not take off running. Sometimes leashes can teach valuable lessons.

  2. Used to take a pair of twin girls on walks with harnesses with their mother. One of the girls had the exact same propensity for suicide as you describe Jack having and the choices were keep her locked in the house forever, or take her out walking with the harness. I'm all for the harnesses. I don't see it as any different than a stroller. It's just a tool to keep them safe!