I have Habanero chili bushes.
When I planted them I explained to my girls that they were never to touch them and I explained why too. When the bushes started growing fruit, I once again reiterated my message to the girls, explaining how badly it would burn them.
But… as any parent will tell you, kids…. they don’t always listen. They’re invincible. They think they can do anything and mostly they’re like walking middle fingers.
We’d been outside in the garden, and the next thing, I heard blood curdling screams coming from Ava. She said her face was on fire. When I checked I noticed large red welts developing around her one eye. When I asked her if she’d touched anything, she admitted to having picked a chili. Yes, the very same chilies I told her not to pick countless times, the very same chili’s I’d explained would burn the hell out of her. But being a 6 year old, she’d blatantly ignored me. Because you know, as the adult, what the hell could I possibly know, kids think they’re invincible and we, as adults are just the fun police there to annoy them.
Today ranked up there with the time I held Ava down for anesthetic & when she had blood tests for jaundice when she was 2 days old! She found a habanero chili, tore it open and scratched her nose, rubbed her eyes & touched her lips! An hour of screaming, milk compresses & a yoghurt mask later, she’s calming down & my heart rate has returned to normal!
Was it my fault she’d gotten burned by the chili? Maybe? Maybe I shouldn’t have planted chili’s in our vegetable garden. Or maybe she should just have listened to me right?
But the fact remains, as parents, we simply cannot have eyes in the back of our heads. We cannot monitor everything our children do, even when we’re with them. It’s simply isn’t impossible.
Ever lost your kid in the grocery store? You turned your back for a second to pick something up off the shelf and when you turned around they were gone? It’s a horrid horrid feeling right?
Or gone to Spur and been unable to find your child in the play area, because they simply ignored your orders to stay where you could see them.
Thankfully, the times I have lost my kids in the grocery store, or when one of them has darted out in the road, right in front of me, while I’ve been standing right there, trying to grab them, has not resulted in tragic consequences. But it could have.
They could have been knocked over by a car. They could have been snatched. Or they could have ignored my warnings not to climb over the railings at the zoo and fallen into the animal enclosure while I had my back momentarily turned.
Of course there is the times when there are consequences too. Like when I tell them to not jump on the couch they’re going to fall and a second later they do fall and smash their heads on the coffee table. Of when they ride there bikes and chase the dogs and I warn them not to do it because they’re going to fall and it’s like the words haven’t even left my mouth and they’re lying on the ground screaming with grazed hands and knees.
These are the consequences of not listening. They’re minor. They’re not tragic.
Not like falling into the gorilla enclosure at the zoo.
What happened is a terrible terrible tragedy with horrible consequences. A child could have died. An endangered gorilla did. It’s horrible. My heart breaks for the gorilla and for the staff at the zoo that had to make that heartbreaking decision in the blink of an eye. There was no time to way up the options.
But this…. this is NOT ok. As a parent who’s learned first hand how quickly accidents can happen, how quickly tragedy can strike with our children. In the blink of an eye, even when you think you’re watching them and can control what they do, well, you simple can’t. I think all of us who have watched our kid, in slow motion, pull a cup of hot coffee on themselves, fall off a chair or a bike etc can attest to that.
I wonder if the little boy smiling so sweetly in the photo has ever been accused of being a brat? Or is he the perfect angel that has never disobeyed his parents?
I get it, it’s a highly emotive tragedy. A beautiful and endangered animal died. But yoh, I’ve found my blood boiling at the amount of vitriol being spewed towards the mother of that child. Some even suggesting she be criminally charged.
What has astounded me even more is the amount of parents, people who know how one slip up in judgement, one moment distracted, one moment with your back turned or one moment when you kid, yet again, thinks they know better than you do, can result in a horrible accident or tragedy when it comes to our kids, they’re among the mob lambasting this mother.
I really really hope, Judgey McJudgeson, if you’re one of the people slamming this mother, that it’s never your child involved in a horrible accident that could have been avoided if only your child had listened to you or if only you hand’t turned your back for one second.
And listen, this isn’t meant to be a debate about the actions the zoo took. Personally, I am saddened that an animal had to die, personally I don’t like zoo’s or circuses or animals in captivity, period and I agree, this whole thing could have been avoided had that gorilla not been in captivity in the first place.
I’m just saying, if you’re one of the people saying this woman was a shitty mother who can’t look after her child, remember that the next time your kid gets lost in the grocery store, or smacks their head on the wall because they were jumping on the bed when you told them not to or is screaming bloody murder for an hour because they touched the chili’s you told them not to touch!
I was thinking about this on my run this morning and I can honestly say, as controversial as this may sound, if that was my kid being flung around my a gorilla, I’d have shot it myself. Because the moment I became a mother, I knew that I’d do ANYTHING or die trying to save my children and THAT’s what makes me a good mother.
And then, I stumbled across this… and it so eloquently says what I’d love to say to this vilified mother – http://karacarrero.com/open-letter-mother-boy-fell-gorilla-enclosure/