Sunday, September 26, 2010

Respect... it is not just for adults! (Part 2)

The other day I was driving my car down the road and I saw a sight that is all too familiar nowadays.

A mother pulling her child on a leash. You know what I mean, the "harness" designed to keep your child "safe".

Usually when I see this, the parent is at the very least walking behind the child or next to the child. This particular mother was actually pulling her child while she strutted, yes strutted, down the street in her huge Pretty Woman style sunhat and high heels. Her child was struggling to keep up and even tried to stop to look at a flower before being yanked away.

I almost turned my car around to have a little "discussion" with this "Mother", but I didn't and instead drove away feeling profoundly sad for this little girl. It made me wonder what adult personalities will be available to my son as his peers in his adult life. What issues will this child take away from this experience and how will effect her when she is a parent? Adding a cute dog, bear, or ugly character to the back of the harness does not fool the child out of knowing exactly what is happening to them.

Later that day, when we arrived home for naptime, I saw on my freecycle group, this posting:
OFFER: Toddler harness and leash
If your toddler is wearing this red Elmo harness, he can't run away as soon as you let go of his hand. I admit it is embarrassing to have your kid on a leash what with the public staring at you in horror, but if it keeps the kid from running into the street, it might be worth a try! (It didn't work for us; our kid found a way to wiggle out of it)

Oh boy, I have so much to say about this I don't even know where to begin!

1. Let me start by saying that I absolutely understand the fear of losing a person who makes your entire life worth living, a person whose entire well-being rests in your hands, and a person whom without you never thought this amount of love was even possible. I take all of those things very seriously and I do understand that a parent would do anything to keep there child safe. So unlike before, when I did not have my own child, I now understand the rationale behind the purchase of one of these items.


2. You are still dealing with a PERSON, a human being. I mean for goodness sake, I have seen many adults act more foolishly around a busy street than a lot of children. Why not put your husband in one of these too? I am not even all that fond of pulling an animal along on a leash, but your child? Some feelings just go so far beyond words for me.

3. And it doesn't even work for a child who is determined to get out of it!?!??! Are you serious? I am in deep admiration of that little kid who wriggled his way out of his Elmo Harness. He gives me hope that the human race, even the young sector will not stand for being treated horribly.

4. HOLD YOUR CHILD'S HAND! If you are a parent who has the child always dashing towards the street any opportunity he gets, I have some information for you. You are stronger than your child is. While it is your job to keep them safe it is also your job to keep him safe in a decent, respectful way. Hold their body if you have too while listening, explaining, etc... but I am sorry...
The leash is unacceptable.

5. I have an inkling that this product that is aimed to illicit the worst fears in parents in order to get them to open their pocket books also has an underlying appeal. I believe that it is an attempt to make a parents job "easier". By that I mean, the parent will not have to pay as close attention to the child. If I am right about this, then it makes me even more livid.

If you really don't want to share your outing with your child, get a babysitter.

Children learn about the world by exploring it slowly, curiously, and sometimes dangerously. They deserve our attention and our explanations. It is also our job to learn from them all that we have forgotten from our time as children. Stop and smell the roses with your child, have conversations, be present, and for goodness sake, stop treating children like dogs.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"I'm so glad to see you, let me take home a piece of your scalp."

My son gets so excited to see other children! Seriously giddy! He chirrups with delight. He shrieks with excitement while tightening both legs into a locked position.
Lately at some point, it results in at minimum a soft tap on the head and at full force, a bang and grab of any hair or lack there of that is accessible.

And of course I love to witness, participate, and encourage his excitement! It is actually my favorite part of toddler hood, being witness to his joy as he finds the things in life that interest him.

I must say 100 times a day with as much awe as before, "A bus!, A truck, ooh another doggie!"

Herein lies the rub.

I want him to express his feelings freely. To not hold back! To love with all his might, express his anger as strongly as he feels it, and even to cry until their are no more tears left to feel inside.

But I don't want the fallout of that expression to be the hurt and tears of another precious little baby.

I have tons of experience and training in helping children through this stage, but I have got to tell you this is where handling things as a PARENT is different.

Suddenly it is not only about being a teacher and handling an issue.

It is about:

*worrying other parents won't understand that this is very normal behavior
*knowing how it feels when your precious baby is hurt by another
*knowing that your child is curious about reactions, dominance, and how that all plays out and wanting him to get the right attitudes towards it
* not wanting my child to think I don't trust him by reacting every time he gets too close to a child, but also wanting to stop another from getting hurt (boy is that a fine line)
*making sure he has enough outlets for aggression and activity which I know to be important for children and boys especially

and mostly...
*wanting my precious boy to be loved by other children and adults in our lives

Boy, being a parent sure makes things a bit more complicated.

To all those whose children are getting the brunt of mine's learning curve here, we BOTH love you so much! Thanks for hanging in there with us, we are hitting lots of pillows right now!