One parent's decision on the toddler harnesses

Written by: Kiran Advani

You have probably had this conversation:  a mom berates the toddler harness and vows that she will not ever use it because her child is not a dog. Then someone says it’s not a bad idea because it keeps your kid from getting lost, etc.  I have avoided that conversation entirely.

Before I had my daughter, I mulled the master-pet analogy and thought it was true…and then cringed when I saw a father smack his son’s tush for wandering away in a store (a parent’s imagination can go wild if their child is unexpectedly out of sight even for a few moments; I get that now).

When Daughter started walking, did not want to sit in the stroller, or be carried, and her mantra was “nooo I dooo!” I bought one; a Monkey with a little pink bow. I never used it. It sat in her toy basket. She played with it sometimes putting it on and talking to it.  I just watched Monkey. I thought about Monkey when I chased Daughter through stores or momentarily lost sight of her while trying to grab things, get assistance, etc. I liked feeling Daughter’s palm in mine, connecting Daughter to me, but that palm was in my hand less and less and she did not want to be confined, and  I did not want to confine her – I like that she ran around, spent her energy – it made for better naps.

The test of my relationship with Monkey came in June; we were going to travel for a wedding. Two legs on the aircraft, with a layover of about 2 hours. Oh lord. Monkey kept looking at me questioningly from Daughter’s toy bin and I pretended not to see her (Monkey, that is). Alternatively, there flashed imagery of me struggling with my purse and a carry-on as I ran after Daughter with my husband yelling about he told me we should check in the luggage (I have good reasons for not checking bags on this particular trip).  There was also this scene: I would be talking to the lady at check in, or maybe staring at her because she was ignoring me, and in the one moment that my head would not be swiveling Exorcist-like, Daughter would be gone. It made my brain hurt.

So, before we left the house for the airport, I knelt, and told Daughter: “hey you want to take your monkey with you today? I will let you hold the tail.” She nodded excitedly and said “Yes!” (That’s right; she says the whole word.) “Ok, but will you share the tail with mama?” Another nod, “Yes.”  “All right, let’s take it.”

Best decision. Let all protesters know:

1.     Daughter felt important taking care of Monkey.

2.     Daughter loved relaying the tail, we still held hands and even held Monkey’s tail together!

3.     Daughter loved running around freely showing off her speed, saying “so fast, so fast!!”

4.     Daughter was happy to not always be in our arms, just upon request.

5.     Daughter didn’t mind sitting still for the aircraft ride because she was tired from afore-mentioned running.

6.     We reassured and attended to Daughter when she tugged because our attention had to be elsewhere.

7.     Family experienced a reduced amount of frustrated screaming or crying.

8.    Most important: Daughter did not wander away.

Dear protesters:

Please know that I don’t use it all the time. Watching my daughter skip and run in front of me is not the same as walking a pet – Monkey’s tail and related antics added another form of entertainment and way to connect with her. Returning home with Daughter without being overstressed is a definite bonus.  Am I proponent of controlled harnessing? Yes.

Posted on September 20, 2013 at 10:59 AM