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
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.
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.