In the mall over the weekend, we tried out our Love Handle.
It worked very well, was unobtrusive, and garnered no negative feedback whatsoever from onlookers. It was long enough, fit just right, and didn’t pinch at all. A success!
Now… its not what you think, really. I can hear eyebrows raising everywhere, so I’ll explain. 😀
When we realized how inquisitive and independent our son was, we made the contraversial decision to employ a child walking restraint for him once he was steadily on his two tiny feet and getting into messes. My concerns were of the farm, where he can wander underneath stomping hooves, or into thickets in the blink of an unprotected eye, and I knew eventually the stroller would lose its appeal as he wanted to explore this wonderful world of grass, bugs, and dirt. It would also be useful for the mall, and when we were out and about being “urbanistas”.
We also knew it might not be the most popular decision, and I have witnessed parents being accosted and screamed at for using a “leash” for their child. Not pretty, and not what I wanted to endure. I’m not a confrontational person, and would just about die of embarrasment if an overly-opinionated person were to unleash their distaste at our parenting decision in a public place. My husband would do the umpire-belly-bump and evil eye them to submission, but I would likely mumble something apologetically, and once around the corner, cry.
I am a big marshmallow.
So what to use became the more difficult question to answer. I wanted something that was subtle, and didn’t look like a leash. I kiaboshed my husband’s idea of a retraco-leash like what we use for my Dad’s dog. Right… that’s subtle, Dear… Let’s just get him an anti-pull harness while we’re at it? That outta work… *Towels off sarcasm with a ShamWow*
We knew that buckles, velcro, or snaps were the traditional route, and would become challenges for our Houdini-in-training. The animal backpack was a “cute” option, but again, all those buckles and snaps were just a reason for our son to undo them. He’s already figured out his carseat chest buckle.
Using a restraint also meant that each time we wanted to transfer from stroller to ground and back again in an area where we needed to keep our eagle eyes open, we would have to take the restraint on and off. This would prove tedious, and would be a source of frustration for all of us as the wearee would squiggle and worm the entire time, and we would be sweaty and gritting our teeth afterwards (much like diaper changes now! 🙂 ). That in turn would eventually mean we would not want to use it at all, preventing our son his much needed freedom to explore the world from his level, and at his pace. We also dismissed wrist restraints out-of-hand.
No pun intended. Really.
I like best that it is washable, completely lightweight fabric, is a subtle pattern, and easy for me to wrap around my wrist. Just about everywhere we went in the mall with it, parents stopped not to berate us, but to ask us what it was, why didn’t anyone think of this sooner, how much it did NOT look like a leash, and how opposed to leashes they normally were.
I was surprised at the reaction, anticipating at least one pooh-pooher during our sojourn. It is, for all intents and purposes, a leash. I had been somewhat trepidacious to use it in the mall, but need overran hesitation. My son wanted to walk, and holding his hand would give my back a crick, and make him even more frustrated when he couldn’t go.over.there.right.NOW!
For some reason, without the spiral cord, nylon strapping, buttons, or hooks, our son’s restraint system didn’t have the expected effect. Old ladies smiled and cooed at him, young couples giggled and asked how old he was. Moms wanted to know where we got it, Dads wanted to know how much it cost, and my son was oblivious to it all, walking from red tile to red tile on the floor, making excited “Bah!” noises each time he leaned over to touch one.
I wondered, as we strolled the air conditioned, muzaked spaces, me being towed along by my son, my husband pushing the stroller, why there seemed to be this acceptance of us with our child in his Love Handle. If we had bought a harness, would we have had the same reactions? Would our happy smiling, babbling child erase the sight of a traditional walking restraint, or prevent scowls if he was eagerly stepping along wearing a monkey backpack-with-tail-tether? Or is the product to blame for this unexpected (and welcomed!) response? Was it our caring, yet laissez-faire attitude that calmed peoples ideals?
I wasn’t sure, so I chalked it up to the product, since it was rather different than anything currently for sale at Toys R Us. Had to be.
I did shake my head and chuckle with my husband as we gathered ourselves up to go, the fabric tether tucking neatly behind our son as we put him back into his stroller. I then rolled the past couple of hours through my head. If nothing else, we discovered that the stigma of “leashing” your child seems to have some preconceived notions, and we had inadvertantly performed a social experiment about it, with our Love Handle.