Sunday, August 21, 2005

In praise of reins

“Leads are for dogs not people”

Actually, I disagree. The sight of a child straining at the leash while their mother gossips 4 feet above them is an awful one. But there are times and places in which a set of toddler reins is a splendid piece of equipment.

There is a stage when a child begins to learn about traffic. They are fascinated by cars (*point*), lorries (*point*), buses (*point*), vans (*point*), motorcycles (*point*) and aeroplanes (oh no, sorry, that’s something else). They learn from their parents’ verbal and non-verbal cues that roads are things to be treated with caution, and that the pavement is the safe place to be.

There is also a stage when a child learns to walk – wobbly at first, and delighting in their growing balance and confidence.

Some people’s children encounter these stages in the convenient order. Others learn to walk before they understand roads. For these children, wearing reins by the roadside gives them the freedom to walk along and the parent the ability to stop them falling into the path of an oncoming juggernaut. Reins can be slack at all times except when disaster actually looms.

Cliff tops and river banks are similarly good rein places. A child can investigate without actually falling 150 feet.


Anonymous said...

The little girl survived? Wow! How terrifying it must have been, for child and parents.

I'm not sure I agree about the reins/leads for toddlers who are too young to understand the danger of roads and the safety of pavement. They can always be worn.

"Babywearing" is a misnomer, many women wear children up to 4 years old in a hip-carry or back-carry, depending on their weight and their willingness. It's safe, and the child still gets to see what's going on.

Most important, the child feels the mother's bodily reactions to the street - she jerks to a stop at pavement's edge, she speeds her steps to cross the street, she slows down again when she reaches the pavement. By feeling the mother's body and seeing and hearing her reactions as well as all of the environment, the toddler will be well-prepared to take on the street when they're ready.

Is babywearing becoming more common in England or Europe?

And have I made a faux pas just now, should England not be mentioned separately from Europe because of the EU? ;)

emma said...

Dear Jabbermommy,

Ah - I entirely agree that the sling is the ideal standard mode of urban transport. Or a backpack for a bigger child once the hip carry is too difficult. I should have said that clearly!

I'd like to hear the pros of buggies one day... not enamoured so far, myself.

But reins are splendid for those moments when a toddler wriggles to be DOWN and exploring in a place where one would feel frightened with them roaming free. On a railway platform is another such place.

Is baby wearing becoming more common over here? To an extent. Give me a few days to write a proper post about that...

And please refer to my country as England. Not all of us want to have anything at all to do with the European superstate ;-)

Dawn said...

Mei tais and wraps are WAY comfier an, IMO, safer than frame backpacks.

emma said...

you mean the kind where the child is on your back? Must get me off to ebay...