Day 229: Parenting as Suicide Watch

One of my jobs as a father is to keep my kids away from poison, knives, and ledges. Other people have that job too, they’re called orderlies in a psych ward. I’m constantly on suicide watch because I don’t know what they’re capable of. Will they jump off the edge of the mall parking garage? I have no idea, so I have to assume the answer is “probably.”

The euphemism we all use is “baby proofing”. We have that for adults too and it’s called a padded cell. We’re doing this because we don’t believe you’re capable of not harming yourself. Does intention really matter when someone’s screaming KITTY while trying to jam a water balloon into the toaster oven? An adult would be put on an antipsychotic; a small child, however, is simply redirected to his train set and maybe a short nap.

That’s the majority of our job as parents; keep the kids fed and safe. The fort building, book reading and ball-throwing are bonus features received after we’ve managed to complete our base mission. It’s not easy to keep a kid safe. In acts of desperation, some parents turn to helmets and leashes. I used to scoff at parents who walked their kids like dogs, but now I try to give them a smile and a wink that says, “It’s ok, I totally understand.” All you non-parents who point and laugh at kids on leashes should shush and enjoy your carefree afternoon having a picnic of exotic cheeses in the park with a gaggle of women wearing gigantic sunglasses and ironic hats.

If, however, you see someone walking 3 or more children by leashes, like a professional dog walker, you have my permission to say something. No one should be pulled along the side walk by a gaggle of toddlers like they’re competing in an urban Iditerod. You should especially say something (and probably inform the authorities) if it’s summer and the parent is wearing fur and yelling MUSH at the kids while standing on a homemade cardboard sled.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

23 comments On Day 229: Parenting as Suicide Watch

  • Jason, you saw the error of your ways on judging a single leashed kid, but went back to being judgmental about having a group of leashed kids providing propulsion for a family vehicle? Until you've walked a mile in that parent's shoes…

  • ok, so I have spent the last several hours reading your whole blasted blog. That's how bad MY job sucks. I am seriously sitting over here at my computer laughing till I bout pee myself at 3 am. Loving this blog. keep it up!

  • As soon as my son was able to walk he could be gone in a flash! Just turn your head for a moment and GONE. I had taken countless elementary students on school trips to cities, zoos, farms, etc and never lost one for a moment but now I had the flash who would follow his first impulse at top speed. You better believe I go a baby leash. I just wish I had the guts to say what I felt to those glaring unknowing child free people at 4H fairs and zoos. "Would you rather see me saving him from the cow pen or from under the horses hooves?"

  • I've never put my kids on a leash, but it sounds tempting at times!! A week or so ago I turned my back for a few seconds to put one in his car seat and next thing I know the other one is half way across the parking lot heading for the four lane high way. I didn't know this pregnant mama could still run that fast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But I caught him about 10 feet before he would have gotten turned into road kill. No kidding about the suicide watch!!!

  • I too, used to be "disgusted" (exact word I would spat in judgement) at kids on leashes. Now, I proudly strap one on my kid at the airport and the zoo, and it's invaluable. However, it is disguised as a "monkey backpack" and the leash is the "tail." Needless to say, you couldn't fit an ant in the backpack–I'm not even sure it has an opening. Obviously invented by our kid leash convert brethren.

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