We’ve always known our son Judah was active. From the moment I could feel his kicks in my belly, I knew we were in for it. We joke that he only has one speed: RUN. And for a two-year-old, he is quite the sprinter. I didn’t realize just how fast he was until I got pregnant and keeping up with him got harder and harder.
After one particular trip to the zoo, I realized how quickly he could be gone. We were walking the trail that leads to the otters and dancing along with the Cajun music. Then all of a sudden it was like a switch flipped, and he darted through the rest of the trail like it was nothing. I yelled “Stop!” and took off running immediately after him and before I knew it, he was out of my sight. Heart.stopped.
Once I arrived at the otter exhibit, he was grinning with his hands pressed onto the glass and said, “Look mom! Otter!” (Like it was no big deal.) After disciplining him, I hugged him tight. Anyone could have been in there. He could have kept running through and then I really would have lost him. All these scenarios raced in my head, and I knew right then and there that my next purchase was going to be a harness—socially acceptable or not.
We are constantly teaching him safe boundaries, (It’s never OK to walk into the street, do not run away from mommy or daddy, always hold our hand when walking on the sidewalk, etc.) but some lessons stick better than others. I quickly realized that I have to take his safety into consideration until he truly grasps these concepts and can show us that.
There are many decisions we have to face as moms. I didn’t think harnesses were in our future since he generally enjoys his stroller and is overall an obedient kid. But sometimes you have to do what you believe is best for your family. And in Judah’s case, that involves a harness aka “leash of shame.” However, I was pleasantly surprised that he actually really likes the harness monkey (he thinks its a game) and he even named him Balfour. (Where does he come up with this stuff?)
It’s not something we break out day-to-day or will ever abuse (e.g, tug him or pull him along), but it’s a way to keep him safe in public situations where it’s better for him to walk. And if you have a fearless or actively adventurous child, you probably know just where I’m coming from and may even have a harness of your own.
Being a parent is tough, and keeping our kids safe can be tougher. So until Judah learns that its never OK to break free and run off, I’m sure I’ll be gathering lots of uncomfortable glances from strangers and maybe an unwanted comment here and there. But I’ll happily withstand it knowing that I’ll be sleeping better at night with my wild child snoring peacefully in the next room and Balfour hanging in his closet awaiting our next adventure.