Several years ago I watched in horror as a respectable looking woman crossed Fairfax with four toddlers all on leashes. It was like something out of a horror film and I gasped, giggled, and then gasped again.
Babies on leashes always seemed so wrong. Soooosososo wrong. It seemed so tacky. So lazy! So… ick! Bleh! Yuck! I was the first person to roll my eyes at Disneyland when I spotted fanny-pack clad mothers, their toddlers on Disney brand leashes. I judged mothers left and right and wondered how they slept at night, knowing they leashed their kids.
“They’re not dogs. They’re babies,” I thought. “Sheesh.”
That was before I was the mother of a wandering
Jew two-year-old. Before my shy little boy turned into a brave and disobedient little explorer with a mind all his own and no desire to impress me or entertain my rules.
He may stay close to me in familiar places but in new and dangerous ones, he’s fearless and curious and wants nothing more than to run free. Far, far, away.
On Monday we took a trip to the Los Angeles
Animal-Prison Zoo. And not a second after unbuckling Archer from his stroller, he went running toward the crowd, weaving in and out of strangers toward the wooded bank of the cement path. I ran after him, screaming for him to slow down.
“Ahhhh!!! Wait up! Archeeeeeeer…”
I went sprinting after him, and pretty much spent the next two hours, chasing him through the thickets on the outskirts of the paved roads and carrying him kicking and screaming back to our friends.
Tantrums persisted. I spilled my coffee trying to remove Archer from a bush, tripped and fell on my face trying to stop him from running into a habitat construction zone. It was a little slice of hell.
I forced him in his stroller where he kicked and screamed and reached out to passers-by to be rescued and set free.
“Nope. Sorry, dude. You just lost your freedom privileges. You can’t run away like that! You have to stay close.”
We eventually found our friends and headed toward the Zoo exit.
On our way to the parking lot, we passed a woman with two toddlers on leashes. Archer was still squirming in his stroller hysterical. I was on the verge of tears, exhausted and feeling like a total failure.
The woman with the leashes, on the other hand, was smiling away, chatting with her boys who were happily orbiting her, their arms stretched out like airplanes. Happy. They all were happy.
I envied the mother. For being able to have a comfortable afternoon at the Zoo with her kids. It was obvious, she was doing something right. Me on the other hand? I was the “asshole”. I was the “tacky” one.
I’ll never judge a mother who leashes again.
On the contrary, I may even follow her lead and become a mommy who leashes, myself.