As a woman who is not yet a mother, but hopes to one day raise my own small village of children, there are a few inner vows that I have declared over my not-so-soon-approaching motherhood.
One is that I can never possibly drive a minivan. Growing up, my mom swore by her blue Dodge Caravan, and I used to hate everything about it. That is—until I spent the majority of my high school and college years hauling kids that I nannied in and out of vehicles. Now, a minivan is the only vehicle I plan to haul the little Lamm babies around in.
Another thing I’ve always sworn I would never do is put my child on a leash. But after reading Clint Edwards’ post about his daughter Aspen’s “backpack”…I may have been persuaded.
The daddy-blogger of “No Idea What I’m Doing” shared a photo two weeks ago of his daughter, on a leash, at the farmer’s market. And you don’t have to tell him, Clint already knows that he immediately became THAT parent.
“We were at the farmers market. No shame. I put this kid on a leash.”
Clint says the three-foot piece of nylon material has already kept Aspen from running out into the road, and prevented her from sticking her hand inside an ice cream machine. Beyond both of those safety measures though, it’s kept Clint and his wife “sane.”
“The real difficulty with having a wild child is that you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. Because the fact is, if I didn’t put Aspen on a leash while at amusement parks, the zoo, a crowded mall, or the farmers market, she’d be the lost child announced over the intercom. She’d be the kid popping up in every Facebook feed for wandering into a shopping center parking lot, unattended. She could be the child climbing into the tiger cage. Because I can’t, for the life of me, keep her from moving.”
And he says he doesn’t want to. Aspen’s curiosity is one that most adults envy—being so excited about everything in the world around you is an innocence that many wish they still had. The trouble with her curiosity, though, is that it makes parenting much more difficult.
“Her curiosity is incredible, and for only having a 12 inch stride, she moves faster than any Olympian.”
Clint acknowledges that he’s aware of the smirks and comments and dirty looks from strangers. But he says there’s only one thing he cares about—and it’s not the opinion of others.
“I’m keep [sic] this kid safe while maintaining my piece of mind, and that is 100% worth it. Because the reality is she’ll calm down. She’ll figure it out, because all kids do. But until that day comes, I’m going to do whatever I can to keep her out of danger, even if it means a leash.”
Aspen calls the leash her “backpack,” and has never fussed about putting it on. Not only does it protect her from dangers that her curiosity might lead to, but it also keeps her body safe. Aspen is prone to nursemaid’s elbow, which is when a toddler’s elbow actually dislocates when yanked by an adult trying to keep them from wandering off.
The backpack is keeping her safe, and still giving her the freedom to be curious within the parents’ comfortable parameters. Experts say that the leash is a great way to control the child’s environment, rather than controlling the child.
”It’s one of those things that a lot of parents say they’re never going to do until they have an active kid, so they go for it,” Clint says.
To those who take it upon themselves to judge another parent’s decision to use a leash, Clint has just a simple message:
“If you see somebody using something like that, it’s for a good reason. Don’t make assumptions. I’m their parent; I know this child well enough to know that I need this. So trust us.”
If a child-leash company isn’t already paying Clint Edwards for endorsements, they should get on that ASAP!
But in all seriousness, his post is an awesome reminder that it’s nobody else’s place to judge another’s parenting.
As for my small village…I may just be investing in a few “backpacks” one day.
Never say “never,” right?