Sunday, July 03, 2005

Children on leashes

I was just walking home from a huge dim sum feast (13 women, and enough food to feed us all to bursting) and witnessed this little tableau:

A mother and her two long-haired boys-- one maybe 5, his leash in the hand of his maybe 7-year-old brother. The younger boy is tearing down the hill to the busy corner, his brother trying to haul him back, to make sure he stays on the sidewalk. They cross the street, and the mother takes back the leash from her older child. They get to the corner store, and she hands the leash back to the older boy -- like handing off the dog to a friend to stop and buy your smokes.

I'm sorry, is there something I don't get here? I've never understood the reasoning behind putting your kid on a leash -- so I did a bit of a search. Here's one opinion for leashes. From that rather long article: "A family fishing excursion to a bayside pier can become a nightmare if a small child falls off and doesn’t have a life vest on." Uh...put a life vest on your kid?

"When the security and safety of a child is involved, many parents will find the well being of their precious children far out weigh the rude looks and comments of ignorant busy bodies (sic) who have nothing better to do than try and cast judgment on others."

I do see some of the arguments -- but today I saw a woman that relegates the supposed safety of her kid to another kid. Bad for the youngest in so many ways: How is he going to actually learn to stop at a crosswalk if all that happens is his slightly older brother pulls him this way and that? How is he going to maintain, or even establish, his autonomy from the brother that has had the keeping of him?

I say, teach your children the dangers of the world, and if you have a child that needs extra vigilance, then when you are in a place where the crowds and dangers warrant it (a fairground, a zoo, a crowded dock...), then have your kid on a leash. But if you're constantly dragging at the kid on the leash, you're using what should only be a safeguard as the only means of training.

But I say nothing (aloud). Who knows, down the road, if I have a child....I may need a leash.


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