There are numerous things I found weird when living in England. Things that could amount to some cultural shock, things I have never been able to adapt to and that helped realise how French I was on many aspects, in spite of my rejection of France.
Kids on leash.
Couple going for a walk, the man walks the dog, the woman walks the kid. Both on a leash. Couples, single parents, families at the supermarket, in the park, with kids wearing a harness and a leash tethered to the pushchair or their parent’s wrist. I did not get it. I never understood it and I will never do.
I ended up asking my students because I assumed this trend appeared after years of terrible statistics regarding the number of children casualties when having a walk or straying a bit too far from their too-busy-chatting-to-look-after-them parents. I could not find such statistics. The UK has a higher child mortality rate but it is due to dismal health service and it has not improved just because the parents feel they need to have their child on a leash.
The kids confirmed what I thought: general psychoses. Everyone in England has a story of a friend who has a friend whose sister’s bestfriend’s cousin saw someone else across the street where their kid, not on a leash unlike all the others, almost got run over by a car who drove three meters away. Actual story from a colleague, by the way. That’s the adults being completely unreasonable there.
The kids don’t care for these “he was very close to almost be probably possibly seen getting run over by a car parked across the street” so let’s have a leash on us. What they told me is that paedophiles were everywhere and having your kid on a leash help keeping them safe. “Everywhere”?! So even the kids are reading the Daily Mail then…
We don’t have kids on leash in France. It’s coming but it’s being very frowned upon. No, French children are not being run over on an industrial scale or being kidnapped by paedophiles because it takes nothing but one thing from the parents: to look after them.