"Freeze! Get on the ground and show me your hands!"
Come to find out the Chicago Police really do yell that as they are
pointing their guns at you.
I know this because two years ago, the Chicago Police were
pointing guns at me yelling this exact thing.
This is how it started:
We decided to take our son, whose middle name happens to
be "Dash," to the Big Winter Fiesta at Navy Pier. It looked like
fun and since he is a day care kid, his immune system would be up
for the impending battle.
As we drove up to the parking garage my wife and I both
told our son: "Dash," you are not allowed under any circumstances
to take off running. You can have as much fun as you want, go on
any rides, eat all the junk you want, just no running!" We
explained to him that there would be a huge crowd of people and if
he took off we could lose him and it was potentially
Apparently what he heard was, "The second we turn our
backs, take off as fast as you can and hide so we can't find you
and have to get the police involved and have to shut down the
entire Navy Pier after an extensive search."
Cuz' that's exactly what happened!
We were walking from one bounce thing to another bounce
thing and I looked away to point at a shiny thing. When I turned
back around, he was gone! Not in the bounce thing, not in the
tunnel thing, not in the spinning thing. He was no where to be
After ten minutes of running and panicked yelling by both
me and my wife, we had to get the police involved. Now everyone was
looking for "Dash." The "thoughts" started to take over my brain as
every minute passed. Panic had set in and the police were trying to
get us ready for "next steps." A parent's worst
I decided to walk off on my own to clear my head and
that's when I walked past the display of trucks and SUV's from a
car company. It was just a glance, but out of the corner of my eye,
I saw tiny little hands on the steering wheel of a pickup truck. My
blood boiled with anger and relief as I reached in and grabbed him.
I wanted to hug his brains out and strangle him at the same time.
My son was alive and well and was goofing off inside a
Before I could make a decision on whether to hug or
strangle him, a policeman saw me grabbing "the missing kid." Not
knowing I was his father, he pulled out his gun and yelled those
words. Luckily we worked it all out, calmly and slowly, and we took
our young fugitive home.
After a lot of research and discussion, we decided "Dash"
needed a leash. I have always thought the parents who leash their
kids were cruel, but after the Navy Pier incident, it was time for
We opted for the simple arm leash. It's a Velcro strap
that goes around their wrists, it's not big or uncomfortable like
the backpack leashes. We discussed what was happening and why and
told him he would have to wear the leash until he learned not to
run away. We spoke to a child psychologist and explained the
situation and he predicted it would take about two weeks, if we
Unlike our dog, we never yanked on the leash, it was more
like we were always holding hands, gently. He was able to walk
freely and be apart from us, but when he decided to wander or take
off, a little tug and a "Sorry buddy" was all that it
Even when we were walking him into school he had to wear
the leash. His friends would ask about it and to our surprise, he
explained what was going on in a very matter of fact
The child psychologist called it perfectly. After about
two weeks "Dash" was more like "saunter casually along." He learned
his lesson; there were no tears or yelling or mental scars. He is
still very much a runner, but now he knows to ask, "Can I run?"
before he takes off.
The leash is still in the car, but buried under DVD's and
old coupons. It served its purpose and we all learned plenty from
it. I wasn't a "leash" person before the Navy Pier incident, but
after, I realized that I am more concerned with the safety and long
term well being of my kids that with what other people might
David Wallach thinks SAHD sounds sad. He’s a D.A.D. A Dad All Day!
See more of David's stories here.
What to do with your weekend, delivered every Thursday.
Great deals and chances to win prizes, delivered every Monday.
Exclusive offers from our partners,usually delivered twice a week.
Resources for parents of children with special needs,delivered the second Tuesday each month.