This post also appeared on My Big Jesus.
I promise I’m not trying to push your buttons.
But I am trying to make you think.
Haven’t any parents out there ever lost sight of their toddlers for one second? I definitely have, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I mean, it happened at the farmers’ market on Saturday! I am human… Anytime, any place, that can happen. Young children are unpredictable, and can be downright sneaky. Even the most attentive parents can sometimes struggle to keep their kids within a safe distance. It doesn’t mean you haven’t taught your children enough about what’s safe and what’s not. It doesn’t mean you don’t pay enough attention to them. Young children just don’t have good understanding of what “safe” is, especially when they’ve never had a reason to be scared.
So what I’m really imploring you to do right now is think. What if it was you? Put yourself in the parents’ shoes… Your child fell into the gorilla cage, or was snatched up by an alligator while you were swimming together. Feel the fear, the sheer terror. Feel the guilt, that builds as you learn what the cause and effect of the situation will be. Feel the anger, that you’d like to place on something, someone, other than yourself or your child. Imagine the sadness, the overwhelming physical ache you’d feel if something was to actually happen to your child.
When you’ve felt those feelings, or at least thought about it for a minute, are you mad at the parents? Or are you, like me, feeling sympathetic to their situation. If I lost one of my children, really lost them, I wouldn’t be able to go on. It wouldn’t matter to me your harsh opinions or your reprimands about what I should’ve been doing.
I would be crushed.
So if you have judgement to pass, ugly jokes to make, or a rude statement to post as your Facebook status about how that would never happen to your kids… Save it. Swallow it. Oppress the thought, and put yourself in the shoes of someone who has lost a child, for any reason. I promise you wouldn’t care what the reason was. Your life would be forever changed, and you’d be mourning that tiny soul for the rest of your life.
I don’t have time for your judgement and harsh words. But I do have time for sympathy, prayers, and kindness.