Friday, May 25, 2012

We've got a runner

The Grape is an intrepid kid, and he seems to have inherited his Mamma's wanderlust.

If he were older, say, recently graduated from college, I'd admire his adventurous streak. Applaud his curiosity. Envy his adventures.

But he is two, which means he's not authorized for solo expeditions.

We're embarking on a moderately ambitious trip this summer, and I'm seriously considering putting the little darling on a leash. My mother applauds this idea, and reminds me frequently that she harnessed my brother and me when facing advanced level obstacle courses such as the International Arrivals Terminal at JFK, or the local supermarket.

We're no worse for wear.

Mumsy went as far as to buy us a "child safety tether," basically a short leash that clips onto a cute plush backpack that the Grape can wiggle out of in less time than Harry Houdini would have needed to escape an unsecured paper box.

A slightly superior version of the device was featured on a recent episode of the brilliant sitcom Modern Family. Cam and Mitchell put their daughter on a leash during a family outing to Disneyland and garnered countless nasty looks from judgmental strangers.

I don't care if other moms shoot me the stink-eye, but I see tethering the child as an admission of weakness on my part. I only have one kid. I should be able to keep him with the program, right?  I also don't believe in hovering. It's extremely important to me that the Grape can entertain himself, sort himself out of small playground scrapes and feel confident and independent.

All of which makes me hard pressed to think of anything more overbearing and helicopter-like than hitching my kid to my person.

R. and I should have seen this coming. The Grape was a really late walker, but once he started, he hasn't stopped.  He was, however, an early talker. Sadly, that feat seems to have translated into early ignorer of parental directives. If I tell him to stop, even in my sternest Mommy voice, the compliance rate averages around a pathetic ten percent.

In short, we've got a runner.

Yesterday, we went on a school trip to the local zoo. After seeing the animals, we had a picnic and the teachers organized a little scavenger hunt for the kids.

Did the Grape join his classmates in their happy search for silly plastic prizes in the designated grassy era?

No. He bolted, at full gallop, for the aviary.  Not that the zoo's collection of unusual birds was compelling to him. He just wanted to see what lay beyond his horizon more than he wanted to take home a toy frog. (Actually, he asked me over his rapidly retreating shoulder, to get him one.)

As I sprinted after him for the hundredth time in two hours, my recently operated knee throbbing, I made a mental note to look for a better leash.

Maybe one of those retractable ones could be good.

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