We will be travelling in a few weeks. Just me and my kids aged 11 (girl) and 3 (boy). While I don’t have any issues travelling alone with the kids especially the older one is old enough to do things on her own, I am seriously considering one accessory for my toddler who has no concept of danger: a child safety harness (leash, if you may call it…shiver…).
You see them sometimes, in crowded places, airports or Disneyland: children on a leash.
Safety harnesses, wrist harnesses, backpack leashes…until I had a child that runs all over the place mindlessly, I thought these things were awful. I passed judgement when I saw a parent holding a leashed child in the busy district of Akihabara in Japan years before I got married. I was single, I didn’t know anything about these fearless children who transform into sprinters once they are taken outside the four walls of the house.
Back in 2013 when we were transiting during our travel to Japan, we nearly lost our son, then, about 26 months at Doha International Airport. I let go of his hand when I was taking out our passports from my bag. You know that sinking feeling that leave your throat dry when you look down and your child is GONE? It only took a few seconds and I saw him running, swallowed by the distant crowd.
We, along with airport security searched for him for *only* 5 minutes maybe but it sure felt like hours. Never mind the struggle to keep a sharp eye and mind while battling heavy breathing, palpitations and lumps on the throat.
There’s nothing like the terror of losing sight of your child, even for a moment.
(We found him safe in Doha airport and in a few times when he scooted off and disappeared in the mall here in Dubai but we’re going to a place where it’s not as safe for children, a mother’s got to do what she needs to do to protect her child.)
It will be my first time using the safety harness (have not bought yet or know where it is available in Dubai!) but if ever I’ll use one on my son, it will be when we are in a huge, crowded, public place and I am alone with him without any help and have my hands full on something: airports, malls, otherwise he is free, like always. If he runs, I’ll happily run with him, as always – nothing like extra exercise during vacation, yes.
To be honest, I am torn whether to mind the judgemental eye balls that would probably pierce through me, the murmurs and at the same time, shit scared of losing my son in the crowd at the airport or being run over by people with trolleys.
So that said, *breathes*
Yes, I am going to buy that cute backpack leash for my son and use it on him on times really necessary. I know I’m going to be judged but I still would prefer to sleep at night, peacefully with my son in my arms.
Approval of others, in the end, do not matter if (knock on wood) your child gets lost, abducted or hit by a car.
In my opinion, a leash is like so many other parenting tools and techniques. It’s not inherently good or bad. What matters is how it’s presented to the child and most importantly, why it’s used by the parent. (I’d be furious if I see a parent enjoying phone time and tugging a child on a leash like a pet!)
Though it’s easy to pass on judgement on parents who use leashes on their child, how about thinking that there are certain situations where a parent may have tried everything and eventually decided that a leash is the best way to protect her child until the child has a little more capacity for thinking and controlling impulses? Do not judge something you have never been through.
I found this at Babycenter:
Picture this: You’re out in public and see one toddler strapped into a stroller, one in a carrier, and one on a leash. Only the leash parent is being judged, but ironically the kid on the leash is the one who is getting to learn the most, explore and interact with his environment, and getting some exercise to boot.