A few weeks ago we took the kids to a carnival that had come to town. If you have been reading along, you might remember that Tim and C got on the ferris wheel and were forgotten about and left to ride undisturbed for three quarters of an hour. During that time, Baby E, Big E, and I fluctuated from wandering around, sitting on a nearby bench and watching a mini roller coaster make its never ending rounds, or staring straight up at the ferris wheel guessing which bucket Daddy was in.
I ran into someone that I knew and as we chatted for a moment, I held onto Baby E’s stroller while Big E was standing next to me. Or so I thought. I had looked down and he was there. I looked up to continue my conversation and just seconds later I looked down again and he was gone. Just like that he was no longer in my field of vision. My heart leapt in my chest as I spun around looking for him. I saw crowds and crowds of people, but no Big E. As panic mode was about to set in, the person I was speaking with pointed to him. He was about 20 feet away. He had wandered over near the bench we had previously taken up residence on and was watching the roller coaster go by. I hadn’t seen him immediately because people had walked between us at the just the right moment as to obscure him from my sight. The whole episode took less than 15 seconds, and while he was in no danger, he gave me quite the scare. I reminded him of the dangers of wandering off and the importance of staying with Mommy. He put me on edge and the rest of the evening I was hyper focused on his whereabouts.
Thankfully my story was brief and unremarkable. No one got hurt. Nothing bad happened. In fact, I had nearly forgotten about it until today. I was reading an article about the little boy that climbed and fell into a gorilla pit at the zoo, and the zookeepers killed the gorilla in order to rescue the boy. (I’m sure you heard about this so I won’t fill in all the details.) But what I do want to comment on are the remarks that I saw written in response to this article. Comment after comment spewed vitriol at the mother. How could a mother be so negligent? How could she be so distracted? Who would ever let their kid out of their sight even for a moment?
In fact, I think I would hazard to say every mother I have ever met in my entire life. Show me a woman who has never lost sight of her children and I will show you a liar. Thankfully most of these situations end happily, but occasionally kids wander onto busy streets, or lean too far out windows, or fall into gorilla enclosures. Children can move quickly and quietly. And if you are dealing with other children or distractions, it can happen. Is it criminal neglect? Usually not. (I know, there are exceptions and there are people that truly are reckless with their children.) Is it a tragedy? YES. My heart breaks for this mama that watched her baby fall into a pit with a wild animal ten times his size, with the power in its hand to crush his body. How helpless she must have felt. Now obviously I don’t know this woman. Maybe she has a history of ignoring her child which led to this situation. Or maybe she is just like any other mom, a woman who for a split second turned her head but in this instance her worst nightmare came true. I venture to say she will relive the horror of that day forever.
As people finished crucifying the mother for her neglect, they then turned on the zoo for being so cruel as to kill the gorilla. I read comments from people saying things like “it’s not fair, the gorilla was innocent,” or “survival of the fittest,” or “This gorilla was 1 in 175,000 while the child was 1 in 7 billion. For me the choice would have been simple.”
Did you catch that?!? To many people that gorilla was more intrinsically valuable than that child. When asked to choose between the two, there were people that chose the gorilla over the kid and if even one person truly thinks like that, it is one person too many. When did we start condoning that type of thinking? How do people get to the point that justifies that reasoning?
Was what happened horrible? Yes. Were there alternatives? I don’t think there were. Life rarely resembles a Disney movie, especially when wild animals are involved. For the sake of the child, the zoo had to shoot the gorilla. Because the child HAS TO BE more important. If we lose that perspective and we devalue humanity in such a way, we can no longer get offended at injustice. For if people have no value, then in turn they have no rights and no claim to dignity. But in our hearts, in our very souls we know that cannot be true. We are valuable. We do matter. We are important.
So don’t worry, should you ever find yourself inside a gorilla enclosure, and I am the only one around with a gun… I promise you will walk out alive. Because YOU are far more valuable.
PS- To all you moms and dads out there, can you tell us one time you lost sight of your kid?