You’re Going To Fall & Other Warnings Kids Ignore

Posted in Opinion, Parenting by

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. 

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. 

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Image credit – CNN.com

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? 

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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/

May 31, 2016
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45 Comments

  • Reply Caroline

    Very well written!
    So many things… It also may have turned out differently if the ‘spectators’ were not screaming and inciting the gorilla even more, the reason he even went to the boy was because of all the commotion…. if it was my child I don’t know what would have stopped me from jumping in right after and trying to protect them? All I know is I got chills up my spine watching that video.

    May 31, 2016 at 8:28 am
    • Reply Sharon

      Totally. I was thinking that same thing this morning. If it was my child…. I would have killed to save her!

      May 31, 2016 at 8:30 am
  • Reply Jodie

    I’ve seen bits of this story but haven’t actually read the full thing. From what I gather, a gorilla was shot in order to protect a child from being killed by the gorilla…I may be wrong…but your article is spot on! As a mother, I can totally relate. I’d do ANYTHING to protect my child. And you are equally right – that if you turn for even second, your children get up to mischief most of the time…blaming the mother for what could have possibly have been a genuine mistake (I’m assuming it was, who let’s their child go willy nilly in a zoo!), is just totally cruel.

    May 31, 2016 at 9:03 am
    • Reply Sharon

      From news about this story coming out today, this mother had 4 other children with her at the time, no wonder she was distracted. It happens. It’s happened to me, in the mall with only 2 kids in my care.
      Here’s the thing, none of us know what we’d do in a situation like that, but I’d like to think I’d have scaled that fence and jumped in to save my child, even if it cost me my life. And once my child was safe, I’d have given her a damn good hiding. 🙂

      May 31, 2016 at 9:19 am
      • Reply Nicci

        Yes, in my opinion (for what it counts…) there should be better security measures in place at the zoo, children shouldn’t be able to enter enclosures at all, and then animals won’t have to be killed! Hold the zoo liable!

        May 31, 2016 at 4:40 pm
  • Reply belindamountain

    As a mother of an incredibly quick 3-year-old, I can easily attest to the fact that I have lost sight of him in a grocery store for 10 seconds when I turned to pay, or that I have just caught him as he has tried to sprint across the road. As you say, as parents we have near misses often, and we are very lucky that they don’t end tragically. It’s impossible to be watching them (and holding on to them) constantly. A very tragic story and it saddens me that fellow parents are jumping on the bandwagon and vilifying this mother.

    May 31, 2016 at 10:10 am
    • Reply Janine

      I also disagree.. Who else should be watching your child like a hawk if not you. I’m not saying the law must take action necessarily but the responsibility does fall on the parent and therefore the backlash too. Yes accidents happen but there are certain circumstances where as a parent you just HAVE to be more vigilant. I shudder to think of the consequences at a crocodile farm. Where the enclosures are fairly easy to get into for anyone willing. I don’t do zoos myself as an animal lover but I wouldn’t let go of my child’s hand for a second and certainly not at 4 years old. It is just not the age to give your child the independence to make a decision like that or the benefit of the doubt to expect they will listen to your instructions. And you certainly need to take responsibility for your actions when you make that stupid assumption as a parent and expect the backlash. It is your job to protect your child. If you get nothing else right as a mother that should be your first priority. If you fail there then yes, it makes you a bad mother. It just does. Not necessarily a horrible human being but certainly not a good mother. Some people have to learn these things the hard way and maybe this experience will make her wiser for the next time. Who knows, the crocodile farm could be the next time and I certainly for one hope if it is she will feel bad enough over this circumstance to ensure she holds that child’s hand and watches him like a hawk! For his own protection!!!

      May 31, 2016 at 4:39 pm
    • Reply Marina

      She did not “allow” her child to climb into the enclosure. That’s a completely ridiculous assumption. Are you saying that any accident that happens with one’s child is something you allow? Like when my 3 year old ran into the my friends house from the pool and slipped on the wet tiles hitting his head on the sliding door railing resulting in a gash on the back of his head that required 4 staples. Did I “allow” that to happen? Hell no. There are no perfect mothers in this world. You are not perfect either. So don’t judge this mother.

      May 31, 2016 at 11:47 pm

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