Shaking my yoga pants mom-iform, I was spending a morning out with my newborn. In a fairly brief amount of time, I observed harness backpacks, wrist leashes, and several styles of baby carriers being used from newborns all the way to children who could clearly walk. In all of my new Mom-ness, I couldn’t help but wonder, whhhyy?
Why on Earth would a child who can walk, or a parent who can obviously…parent…need a leash? Are we dropping them off at the pound next? I did often joke with our pediatrician about when rabies comes up on the CDC vaccination schedule, but seriously.
Almost ten years years have passed and I’m now a babywearing educator. I also help with a local babywearing group and lending library. And I now own not one, but two wrist leashes for my four and five year olds. Times (and parenting styles) change. But whhhyy?
My office is downtown and I frequently make stops to change what I’m carrying in my childbirth education bag. Since I homeschool, my three children often pop into the office with me as well. It was only through a miracle that a parking spot opened up close to my office around lunch time. I didn’t mind that it was on the opposite side of the street, because three kids and beggars can’t be choosers.
The kids were on a roll that day though, and my ability to function in public was waning. I finished up my tasks as quickly as I could, then announced it was time to load up into the car for the next errand. I said goodbye to the office manager, waving my kids under my arm as I held open the door. My daughter was utilizing her leadership skills to yell out that the boys needed to move fast or she would beat them to the car.
I turned around in time to meet eyes with her, crouched in the middle of the street around one of her favorite stuffed kittens. She was shielding the toy in her arms from the bumper that was less than a foot from her backside. Her wide eyes plead for help. My heart had stopped. Everything was in slow motion. I remember nearly arm-barring my nine year old as he ran toward his sister, instructing him to grab his brother instead.
If the car had not been stopped at the light a half block away, they would not have been able to stop in time. None of the hundreds of times that I’ve told them to look both ways would’ve mattered. Not one second of the parking lot awareness talks over the years would have put oxygen back into her lungs. Within less than five seconds of darting out of the door, she would have been gone had it not been for that stop light.
I looked both ways, even though it’s a one way street, and ran out to her. After I scooped her up and brought her back to her brothers, I fought back a cascade of emotions as we again crossed the street together to leave.
I put the remaining errands on hold. We went home, where I ordered pizza and two wrist leashes on Amazon that evening. Both my five year old and four year old love telling people I bought them a collar.
So, maybe something like this will never happen to you. Maybe you have it all figured out and your children are simply angelic. Our household includes a former Marine who is constantly talking through situational awareness exercises. I’m a mother who has more children than hands, and no prior lessons or training made my five year old inherently safe.
Though I never held judgement for parents who used any of these devices, I now totally get it. I once wore both children in carriers, they’re now twice that weight. The wrist option works better for us.