We live on the corner of a busy street. This is great for Colin, as he loves to watch the cars zoom by, and every now and then, we get to watch an ambulance go by, siren blazing. Someone else’s misfortune is pretty much the highlight of my son’s day.
Though our street itself can be pretty quiet, it’s become clear to us that being on the corner provides a less than ideal yard for us to play outside with Colin. Especially, when we have a partial fence. Yup. Partial. The missing portion? Turns out it’s vital. So that kids don’t run onto Main Street.
And would you believe? Our town doesn’t have a playground for kids. Or at least, none that I have found. And I’ve asked around. The closest one is in the town over. All I want is to open our back sliding door, put the dog on the long leash and run around the yard. Preferably not into oncoming traffic.
We are trying to teach the despot to follow our rules for playing outside. He must stay on the grass. No going onto the sidewalk. We try and guide him, asking him to hold our hand. This is met with flailing, and eventually attempts to run into the street. Which is only a marginally worse outcome than the tantrum that is sure to erupt. So even though the weather has been GORGEOUS, I find myself dreading stepping out the door.
So I did what every good mother does. I bought my kid a leash.
Yes, our child has a leash. Yes, so does our dog.
The simple fact is we need to teach Colin how to walk with us, holding our hand. And since I am by my lonesome during the week, and would rather keep tantrums to a minimum while Kase is home, I figured it’s time to “teach” Colin how to walk in public. And for that, I need backup. The leash is my backup. If Colin unlatches himself from my death grip, then the leash will act as a safety tether of sorts. Until we can get the handholding while not running into the street under control.
I assume that like our dog, Fenway, Colin will pull on said harness. I hope of course, that he does not choke himself to death, like our dog sometimes does, hacking up a tongue every now and then while on walks simply because he is too excited to take a leisurely stroll. I hope that Colin does not stop at every tree and feel the need to mark his territory. And of course, I hope that unlike Fenway, Colin does not lurch into the street at oncoming cars. But that’s my experience thus far with leashes.
Hopefully toddlers are different. But maybe not. When we were using a trainer to teach Fenway how to walk on a leash in NYC he recommended we use treats every few steps to encourage him. Maybe just in case, I should bring along a bag of Kix and toss them at Colin when he holds my hand. No?
I remember hearing friends talk about their children and thinking to myself “Fenway does that!” But of course, common etiquette tells us we should not compare human children to our sweet canine companions. But the longer I’m a parent? It is clear to me, children ARE like dogs. There is a reason my mother once asked me if I needed to go out and “piddle.” Well, she didn’t ask me, she asked our dog, who she referred to in that moment as Kate. My dog’s name was Holly. Alternately, more than half of the time growing up, one of my siblings would be called “Holly.” (The other half we were called by a sibling’s name. 7 kids. You know.) As for me? I’m pretty sure Fenway still has the upper hand when it comes to intelligence between the two. After all, Colin can’t ever seem to find his sippy cup when it’s right in front of his face, whereas Fenway can pretty much sniff out week old milk from the couch cushions. Colin tries to get into the trash, much like my beloved dog. So it could be a tie. I’m just saying. Dog. Child. Same difference.
Back to the leash. It’s really called a harness, but whatever. Tomato, tomahto. The bottom line is I’ve become the parent I scoffed at in the mall. The one whose demon child looks as if he is running on a treadmill, frothing at the mouth, tethered to his parent with a scary monkey backpack, the parent looking worn down, a thought bubble over his head asking “Why did we think coming to the mall with a toddler on a Saturday was a good idea, again?”
So tell me. Leashes. Harnesses. Whatever. Ever used one? Publicly? Or should we practice in the house- the leash being my secret shame?