My Kid Wore a Leash

I think the preferred term is "child harness", but when kiddopotamus was a toddler, I called it his "leash". I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding these things, and I was always prepared for someone to say something to me about it, but no one ever did. Looking back they were perhaps waiting for the perfect opportunity to slam me for my "parenting fail" and didn't get their chance.
My son never made this lovely display:

Heck, he never even wore his harness like this:
That's because I held his hand. I used the harness when we were making trips to heavily populated events, especially ones where there were hands-on activities for toddlers and kids. I wanted my son to be able to interact with fantastic science-y displays and models. I wanted him to be able to stick both of his hands in the tide pool, or feed the lorikeets at the zoo over priced apple juice. I wanted him to be able to do these things without trying to twist and writhe his way free of my grasp. I wanted to be able to say, "It's okay, go ahead and touch" giving him permission to let go of my (potentially over protective) grasp and explore his world.
So why the leash? I was desperately fearful of the snatch and run. For the same reason I wear a purse with a strap that goes over my shoulder, I put my kid on a leash. I was afraid that someone stronger and faster than I am would grab him and run away through a crowd of people. My prepared statement for any would-be heckler was a scene causing outburst of, "Why do you care so much if I have him attached to me? IS IT BECAUSE YOU WANT TO KIDNAP HIM AND THIS MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE? KIDNAPPER! KIDNAPPER!" Like I said, it never happened.
I didn't "walk" my kid like a dog. I didn't let him flop around on the end of a rope like a trout on a stringer. He never ran to the end of the leash and got jerked back onto his butt. He never laid down on the floor of a Wal-Mart. I wasn't a lazy mom who didn't want to pay attention to her kid so I tied him up like a neglected puppy. On the contrary, I was wide-eyed with suspicion that any person in a crowd could be eyeing my precious little bundle and planning a quick getaway, but I didn't want my paranoia to effect my son's view of the world. I wanted to nurture his growing independence at a pace that wouldn't cause me heart palpitations.
Now, I am much more relaxed. I am able to let my son run around and wreak havoc with just my eagle eye attached to him. I sit back on the steps with the other parents while he paws at the viewing glass at the zoo. I let him get on the school bus and get a ride to school from a lady who's last name I don't know. (The school is a quarter mile away, that one is more of an exercise in letting go for me.)
I'm not sure if it's his age or my age that has caused me to ease up. It is probably because the harness doesn't fit anymore. Who knows if I will have the need to be so (literally) attached to the new baby? Time will tell, but in the meantime, we still have the leash.

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