Monday, November 5, 2012

The Bear Hug

My baby wears a leash.
Only, we call it the Bear Hug.
Don't judge.

I have raised three boys.  3.  I'm not new to this.  The first boy I resisted the urge to use the Bear Hug because I, like so many, had strong opinions about it.  I also had two free hands and only one boy.  So when he slipped away and ran into traffic it had my full attention.  By the time I had my second boy, I started to run short on hands and attention.  So we got the Bear Hug.  And we loved it!  Now we are on our third boy and our relationship had moved beyond love to utter appreciation.

The fourth of July was the first time we brought out the Bear Hug for our 3rd boy.  He was almost 2 years old at the time and we were attending a large festival in our city.  Anyone who has ever pushed a stroller is well aware that people in crowds DO NOT move out of the way of a stroller and make no consideration for families with strollers.  In a crowd it's just every man for himself.  So we chose to use the Bear Hug.

I wish you could have seen our little boy!  Oh the taste of freedom!  He just couldn't believe his luck!  He spent the day with a huge grin plastered across his face and running through the crowd with his arms out to the side like an airplane!  He was in heaven!

BUT- you should have seen people's reactions to my child and his leash.  You would have thought I had handed him a bottle of gin and a smoke and sent him into the crowd.  People literally pointed and stared.  Meanwhile, other people sat in the crowd on their blankets smoking within feet of other peoples' children and that was okay.  But me and my safety leash- oh nooooo!  The horror!

About half way through the day my leash was justified in the saddest way.  As my toddler ran and tugged and pulled me though the crowd, we passed a mother with four children (age baby to about 8) and she was talking to the police.  Her children were crying and she was visibly distressed.  She had lost her 5th child and was working with the police to find him or her.  I said a quick prayer for her.  I hope I never know that feeling.  But that moment solidified my love for the bear hug.

The same people that judge you for using the leash are the ones that will also judge you for "letting" your child get lost or hit by a car.  The reality is that some kids will stay by your side and never think about stepping away from you.  Good for those families.  The other reality is that some kids have a spirit that takes them beyond their parents reach- literally.  I've raised both kinds of children.

So I will strap my kid in and let him wear his Bear Hug all day long!  The freedom makes him happy and the safety makes me happy.  I know this is a hot topic for families (and even people without kids) but I think it really boils down to what a parent feels is right in order to keep their children safe.  And safety for my boys comes in the form of a Bear Hug!