A two year old boy is killed by an alligator.
Just stop for a second. And read that again. A two year old boy. A small toddler. Killed. Dead. By an alligator. Pretty harrowing right? Yes. I am right. It’s rather incomprehensible to you or I as I live in the middle of Shropshire in England where the scariest thing you’ll see in water is a shopping trolley or a rather big eel. Nevertheless, we all know how scary alligators are and the thought of being face to face with one is horrific. But your child, your tiny little child being snatched and killed by one? Beggars belief.
So why the hell can’t we empathise?
Instantaniously, as soon as something like this happens and comes out in the press, just like with the child at the zoo in the gorilla enclosure, why do we feel the need to start looking for blame?
Checking the time – bad parents for being out at 9pm.
Paddling in shallow water – who would let their kid do that?
Not watching them in a foot of water – lazy useless parents.
Seeking out the “facts” so we can shake our heads a little harder and our parenting halos shine a little brighter. It’s easy to be an expert and a perfect parent from afar. Sat in our glasshouses, casting instant judgement and pouring scorn on a family who will relive those harrowing moments for the rest of their lives. Who will leave what is known as the happiest place on earth, one less and a broken and shattered family. One less bag to pack. One less seat on the plane. But hey, it’s their fault right?
As parents, every day you have to make a call. Do you let your child run five steps ahead of you on an empty park? Do you let them climb the slide by themselves? Do you let them walk across the road without carrying them? All small things. But could have massive consequences.
We all have to make decisions daily; some good and some bad. But our bad ones hopefully never have grave consequences. Not only that but imagine making a crap decision then having the whole world have an opinion on it. To tear strips off you when you’re living in a nightmare. L
Social media is filled with outraged people calling the parents all the names under the sun. Outraged that a human comes before an animal. Petitioning for the parents to be held accountable… Why do we feel the need to kick them when they’re down? It’s not about what they should have done. It’s too late for that. It’s about not being an asshole and making your opinion about who is to blame.
Empathy and sympathy. Not hate. The world already has too much of this. Especially this past week. We as parents, and as people, should accept we all make mistakes. Some we are aware of and others we had no idea were mistakes. But why for once, not instantly question and tear strips off the parents. They are human too. And have lost a precious child.
Always remember: Bad things can happen to good parents. Think before you criticise.