Cell phones, Blackberries, iPhones. These devices were all created for the benefit of keeping in touch. However, a recent trend has arisen amongst those finding themselves newly ingratiated into the cult of young parenthood. This invention, often covertly disguised as a panda, cuddly monkey or other heartwarming creatures of youthful fancy, has captured the attention (and wayward wanderings) of both bewildered 20-somethings and their bemused toddlers.
Now, some may view these items as “cruel” or “restrictive,” but in actuality, they are simply “clever.” Designed to attach as one would a backpack to a small child, the “Monkey-grasp” – we’ll identify it as MG for lack of a better term – conceals itself as a medium-to-large sized stuffed animal, grappling across the back, shoulders and waist, and extending its playful tail up and about for the caretaker to keep hold of.
Not only are these features standard, but often a pouch of some sort is included, allowing for storage of powder mirrors, wallets and other small token devices.
Now, some may say that these “leashes” are not humane, that they limit the free wanderings of children and provide an easy exemption for parents whose own fleeting minds tend to indicate a lack of responsibility. The critics indicate also that having such a method of control and protection can be overbearing, and that by combining these restrictive devices with such dissonantly lighthearted and playful actors (zebras, sloths, bunny rabbits), negative effects will occur for the child as it grows into responsible pre-adolescence. But I wager not so.
First, studies have shown that memory is rather inconclusive and vague in children up until the age of 4. Therefore, any feelings, stories or visual images we have stored from this era are most likely our own interpretation of anecdotes from our parents. Do any of us really remember a time before putting on our own underwear?
Secondly, the design of these catch-all safety creatures is ergonomically fit. A slight tug on the “tail” will exert pressure not in any singular area, but in a variety of pressure-specific regions, notifying the recipient “no no” and through additional verbal direction, what the correct thing to do would be.
Other benefits arise during morning jogs. Mothers and fathers alike, especially the younger and more active prototype, seem to enjoy jogging, a lot. Having lived in a suburban neighborhood for most of my life, I know this. It is true. But even more so, they enjoy having a three-wheeled monster stroller, equipped with rugged tires – not wheels – for the most treacherous mountain terrain and steep climbs. However, once a child has reached the walking stage, they are most eager to participate in this newfound activity of walking with their own two feet. But alas, the baby stereotype remains, they are slow. And though a leisurely walk is much appreciated by all, such a luxury does not procure fitness. Nor does it exercise the dog. These things are important.
Therefore, I propose the following. For your next child, investigate, invest and experiment. I assure you that a few years down the road that, with your child’s tail in one hand (obviously the dominant hand) and Fido’s leash in the other, you will become both a marvel to your envious new friends and a role model to your son or daughter, or at least this is what you will tell them when they are old enough to remember. Happy trotting!
Matt Boaz is a senior political science major from Edmond, Okla.