Saturday, June 18, 2011

Is That Kid on a Leash?

I've talked about my youngest daughter Kairi here before, and how she can be a little unruly. My husband Jason and I have been to parenting classes, we've worked really hard with her to try to improve her behavior, and we are getting ready to start family counseling to hopefully get a few more tools to utilize when Kairi's behavior gets out of hand. 

Gracie was nothing like Kairi. Gracie was incredibly mild mannered in comparison. Don't get me wrong - Gracie threw some fits and got a little crazy from time to time, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to Kairi. Kairi's fits are like nothing I've ever seen. She hits, kicks, screams, pulls hair, scratches, pinches, and bites herself so hard she brings up bruises. She also has a tendency to run off the moment we set her down. 

We've tried everything we can think of. Really. And like I said above, we're about to start counseling to hopefully get things under control before she gets much older. I know she's two, and a lot of people would say that it's just a phase, just the "terrible twos," but let me just say that this is the "terrible twos" on CRACK and we need HELP.

So, while we were on vacation, we decided to finally employ the monkey backpack/leash that a friend gave us for the kids to play with. We got it several months ago and never really intended on using it. I tried it on Kairi when we first got it, but she flipped out and hid it. But, we decided to give it another go, considering that we'd be in various airports, a major league baseball game, and a great number of other crowded locations where the idea of losing sight of our 2 year old, even for a second or two, is terrifying. 

As it turned out, this thing was a Godsend. I have never been more thankful for an accessory than I was for Kairi's monkey backpack. 

Prior to having kids, however, the idea of "leashing" my child really freaked me out. Admittedly, I was pretty judgmental of the whole idea. Having lived through mothering a child who will run off the moment you set her down, however, I totally get the need for this product. But it still draws in a lot of judgment.

One girl at the airport in Memphis made a comment in passing that really got to me. We were in the middle of our layover and we were hunting down a smoking area for Jason. We've got our 6 year old, our 2 year old, a carry-on, a tote bag, and a toddler carseat all in tow, and we're trying to navigate this incredibly busy airport. We're all tired, and Jason is incredibly cranky because he hasn't had a cigarette in hours. His crankiness made me cranky, which in turn made me snap at the girls probably significantly more than necessary or normal... It just wasn't a great situation. So, we're walking along when Kairi decides she wants me to carry her. Only I'm carrying the carseat as well as pulling the carry on behind me. So she just lays down and starts crying. And here comes little miss judgment, a girl who probably doesn't have kids, one of those people who would say, "Well, I babysit a lot so I know a lot about kids." As she's passing by, she says, "Well that's good planning. A lot of good that leash is doing you, huh?"

While actually in Florida, we passed a lot of people who said, only once they thought we were out of earshot, "Is that kid on a leash?" At one point in time, we passed a couple who made that remark, then immediately came upon a woman trying to buckle her screaming daughter into a stroller. She looked up at us after she saw Kairi skip past her and said, "Man... I could REALLY use one of those." 

So, in response to anyone who wants to pass judgment, yes. My kid is on a leash. But you know what? At least they're not locking down Wal-Mart to search for the child I lost, and at least her picture isn't going up on the lost child wall in the entry way. 

And to anyone who thinks I'm lazy for choosing to use a "leash," you try chasing my two year old around for a couple of hours, then we'll talk.