Saturday, July 8, 2006

Toddlers unleashed

Scott Adams in The Dilbert Blog wonders why we don't see more toddlers walking around with leashes. He writes:
Yesterday I was trudging the 47-second commute from my office to my home and passed a father taking his two-year old son for a walk. On a leash.

Yes, the man was walking his child like a dog. The leash design was ingenious. It was actually a backpack/harness arrangement featuring a puppy as the backpack, with the leash coming from the puppy’s tail area. The kid seemed delighted with the arrangement as he strained against the leash. And the father had no worries about the kid darting into traffic for at least two good reasons:

1. The kid was on a leash.
2. There was no traffic.

In fact, we were the only people on the street. So in effect, the father had his son on a leash to protect him from me. I would take offense but it probably happens more often than I realize.

My first reaction to the kid on the leash is that it was humiliating and wrong. But the kid seemed happy enough.

The whole leash thing as always struck me as something interesting. After all, we care so much about safety that it seems extraordinary that we let children walk around so freely. We restrict their movements in many more undignified ways (for instance forcing them to walk around with one hand high attached to an adult), but tethering them has always been seen as too far. Moreover, this appears to be something more or less universal across the world. There aren't countries somewhere whether childhood leashing is considered respectable.