I was given a harness for Bug the other day. I welcomed it - the giver loves my girls as much as I do, and would be equally pained to see them run into danger. But the gift made me think. Why have I never had a harness for my girls before?
I can see the positives. Knowing your child is safe and attached in an airport or near a busy road would be very reassuring. Let alone when you are trying to concentrate on something in public, and then you look up to find your children have wandered away! But by the same token I have seen a mother haul on a harness like it was attached to a recalcitrant dog, pulling her small son around the supermarket while he stumbled along behind her, crying.
I am the woman who refused to buy a GPS until I could map-to-ground perfectly, and who didn't want a dishwasher. I am wary of things that seem too easy, and I fear that if I used a harness I would fall into bad habits.
In my limited experience, taking the "easy" road with child training usually ends up being harder in the long run. I would prefer to take the time to teach my girls the correct behavior the first time, and then reap the rewards afterwards. It seems easier than putting off the training until later, when they are already set in their ways. Besides, the smaller they are, the easier I can catch them and scoop them up while they are still learning!
I also come at this from the relative luxury of having just two intelligent, healthy children. I understand that it would be markedly different if the child had a physical or mental impairment, or if there were multiple small children in a family.
Once Bug had learnt to walk, she immediately wanted to run. And she wanted to run unencumbered by my hand. Usually in a busy car park. I took the time (and it did take time) to teach her that she either held my hand when I asked, or she was carried. No arguments, no debating or crying, no other options. If she wanted to walk, then the default was holding hands. And if she wanted to run? She had to ask. No pulling away, no darting off. So now she says "Mama? Run mummy? No hand?" And it's wonderful. I let her loose as often as I can, but I like knowing she will be safe with me - and importantly any one else she walks with - just holding hands. So it's lucky our new harness is also a handy backpack, disguised as a very cute puppy. It's still getting plenty of use and love!
On a related note, I have also trained my girls to keep both their hands on the car when they are in the car park. It keeps them safe, but it's also funny to see them lined up like little hoodlums in a police raid. Hey, I get my kicks where I can.
So, gentle reader, did you harness your children? Will you harness? Were you harnessed?
Or, like me, do you prefer not to?