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National Editorials & Columns

I’ve become a Leash Mom

I have become the type of mother I hate. I am a leash mom. And it’s glorious.

I’m new to the group, but it seems safe to say that leash moms don’t like the term “leash.” They use words such as “harness,” “safety link” and “love chain.”

And really, why shouldn’t they?

Kiddie leashes have evolved to practically being a fashion statement. They come bedazzled with stuffed animals and flashy lights. My son’s attaches to him via a super-sleek blue backpack stuffed with lightweight toys.

But cool as it looks, we all know the truth. It’s a leash. And just as we leash our dogs to make sure they do not run into the street, so have I my firstborn son.

As it turns out, I like my son. Like, a lot. I know firstborns are supposed to be the throwaway child, similar to the first pancake. The one we make all our mistakes on so we can improve for our next round of breeding. But I don’t want one of those firstborn mistakes to result in his getting A) hit by a car, B) kidnapped or C) hit by a car and then kidnapped.

Before I became a mom, I looked at baby leashes as a cop-out for parents (noun) who didn’t want to parent (verb).

“Hey, I’ve got a novel idea,” I’d think to myself, all snarky-like. “Why don’t you try actually holding your kid’s hand or picking him up? It’s called responsibility. Ya heard of it?”

It turns out that kids don’t like being picked up when they don’t want to be picked up. They squirm and wiggle and kick and cry until they are put down. It’s as if kids are their own little people with their own little minds. Who knew?

My 17-month-old is still a relatively new walker. He recently has taken up the art of running and walking backward. The running scares me for a number of reasons.

His walking backward, on the other hand, looks like baby moonwalking and is, simply put, awesome.

My son loves the newfound freedom of his active, well-balanced legs. He likes to practice and play, play and practice.

I would love to hold my baby all day, to carry him and hold his hand; my little man is growing up so fast!

But that’s not what he wants. He wants freedom, and now that I’m a leash mom, I can give it to him.

We take strolls around the neighborhood while I teach him important safety tips, such as “hold mommy’s hand,” “stay away from the street” and “skip the second ‘Mighty Ducks’ movie.”

It used to be that I’d have to leave his tear-streaked face in the playpen as I carried his apocalypse-bunker-load’s worth of amenities for day care to the car every morning. Once my son began walking, I tried to have him walk beside me as I risked a hernia carrying his products out of the house, but he would bolt for the street.

This is the same kid who licks his finger before trying to stick it in any accessible outlet. He sees danger as a bull’s-eye. Now, with the leash, he can join me. I just tie him to the tree.

I kid!

Tying your child to a tree, even the firstborn, would be terrible. But before we get all mommy-judgy on each other, let’s take a minute to assess what is truly bad parenting.

I have received a lot of dirty looks since I bought the leash. It’s karma; I get it.

But finding a device that helps you rein in and protect your child is not inherently negligent. Are there better ways? Perhaps.

Next time, before you stare down a leash mom with contempt, try walking a mile in one of those “love chains” and see whether it’s really as bad as you think.

No, really, you should. They are fabulous-looking.

And totally conducive to moonwalking.

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