I know from the arguments and reprimands that I’ve had on social media today that this isn’t going to be a popular view, but whoa, I’m an honest person and so I’m going to just say it anyway; that kid who fell into the gorilla pit? It could just as easily have been mine.
So go on start throwing your insults, but first let me explain:
I am human. I am a mum of 3 and I am human. This means that I only have two eyes, and I only have two hands. I’m already handicapped when it comes to having 3 children; there’s just not enough of me to go around. I can only physically be holding 2 of them at the same time. I can only see them all if (and this never happens) they are standing nicely together. Normally, I’ve deliberately got the youngest two as far away from where they can annoy each other as possible. This means I get to see those two one at a time. i.e. I have to take my eyes off one to look at the other. And let’s face it, even if I didn’t, I’m a self confessed haphazard parent. I get through my parenting life by the skin of my teeth and occasionally by the seat of my pants; I actually once nearly ended up in my Nana’s grave on top of her coffin due to a particularly difficult moment when my 18 month old decided to do that throwing himself backwards with the force of a baby elephant thing just as I threw in my handful of mud and rose as we were burying her. It was only the quick thinking of my ex that stopped us both falling 8 ft into the ground and giving my Nana one last shock. These things happen, right? Accidents I think we call them…
All day I have seen on Facebook and Twitter that the mother should have been looking after him properly. That it was her fault. Was it though? Really?
I wasn’t there, but I find it difficult to believe that this woman stood by and idly watched her 4 year old son climb a small fence with a 15 ft drop the other side. Surely it is more likely that one of her other children demanded her attention in some way, perhaps she was trying to stop that child from climbing the fence, or running away? Perhaps another one of her children needed a drink, or a tissue, or lifting so they could see the animals, and in those moments, when her back was turned, the 4 year old got away from her?
And by the time she turned back it was too late; he was gone, or maybe he was about to go, and she couldn’t quite get her fingers to him in time to stop him. After all, I’m led to believe there were plenty of other zoo visitors also in the area at the time. Now call me nosey, but if I’d been at the zoo and seen a child, any child mine or a strangers, about to climb into a gorilla pit, I’d like to think I’d stop them. The fact that no one seemed to notice kind of makes me think that perhaps this was something that only took a split second. That, like my son nearly flipping us both into my Nana’s grave, wasn’t really foreseeable and unluckily for her, she had no quick thinking sidekick to stop the nightmare.
Which leads me neatly on to an imbecilic statement that I saw posted to Facebook earlier; she should have taken additional help with her to supervise all 4 children all the time! Oh yeah, because all those of us who have more than one child shouldn’t go anywhere unless the child to adult ratio is 1:1. Hands up who else would never be able to leave the house?
There’s something fundamentally wrong with that, because even if the ratio is 1:1, guess what, at some point that adult will need to look away from the child!! It’s impossible (not to mention probably mentally unhealthy) to watch a child every second of every minute of the day. I mean what if you need to look at your watch, or scope out where the next animal enclosure is? Have you never needed to sneeze? There’s forced eyes off time right there! And do you know how long it takes a child to slip out of your grasp? Out of your sight? I’ll tell you: 0.00004 of a second, well that’s how it feels anyway!! I don’t know how they do it but mine can literally vanish near enough in front of my eyes!!
Find me any parent who hasn’t had that moment of absolute panic, when they’ve glanced at their watch, or spoken to another child and turned back to find that the errant child is not where they had last seen them and reasonably expected them to be. I know I’ve done it a few times, per child!! It is terrifying and it is horrible, but I have been lucky enough that the said child was just hidden under a clothes rail (or decided to ditch me and walk back to the car (aged 3 and in a shopping centre!!)).
What are we going to do? Chain our children to us? Take out two adults for every child so they never have a moment without adult supervision (Bill, I need to scratch my nose, eyes on Charlie for me) , or do we put in adequate safeguards and precautions and allow our kids to be kids?
I would not expect that a 4 year old could easily climb into a gorilla enclosure, if I had been that parent I would likely have taken my eyes off the 4 year old for a moment. That seems a reasonable thing to do; perhaps the younger one cried, perhaps mum needed a tissue out of her bag, whatever, I’m pretty sure it never occurred to her or the other visitors that day that it would/could happen.
Parents should look after their children, but there is only so much supervision it is reasonable to give. As sad as it is Harambe was killed it doesn’t make it anyone’s fault. Sometimes accidents just happen.