I didn’t write anything about how awful people were when the little boy fell into the gorilla enclosure. I didn’t say anything about how quick people were to judge the poor parents whose child was killed by the alligator. What finally put me over the edge were the comments on an article about the most recent instance of a baby dying in a hot car, left there by her father due, as usual, to a change in the family routine.
It was an accident, terrible and tragic. Witnesses saw the father sobbing in the driveway. His child is dead. Nothing can change that. And although it WAS an accident, he will forever believe it was his fault. He will never stop going over that day in his mind, imagining what he might have done differently and wishing that he could have a second chance.
And yet the comments on this article were vicious. Inhumane. Merciless. People wrote that he should be locked up forever–or in a hot car for a few hours. They accused him of lying, said he did it on purpose, called him a terrible father. How could he, they asked. I would NEVER forget MY kid, they said.
The same hate that has polarized the country over issues like gun control and presidential politics has seeped into every area of public discussion. We are all firmly entrenched in our little self-righteous camps, unwilling to listen to one another or to extend any benefit of the doubt or God forbid any mercy to ANYONE.
Loudly judging other parents arises from fear. It’s our way of saying that we are not like THOSE parents and that something like that could never happen to OUR kids. It’s a way of asserting control but it’s just an illusion because no one can control everything.
Chances are your kid won’t fall into a gorilla pit or be eaten by an alligator. But let me tell you, at some point a Bad Thing will happen to your child. Maybe he will break a bone, or be in a bad car accident, or flunk out of school, or use drugs, or shoplift, or get caught drinking underage. Maybe she will wander away from you in the mall and get lost, or turn into a Mean Girl, or develop an eating disorder, or experience an unplanned pregnancy. And if people find out they will talk about how you weren’t protective enough, how you weren’t paying attention, how you didn’t raise that kid right, how there must be something wrong with you, how that would never happen to THEIR kid.
And you will probably be telling yourself some of those same things.
Let’s cut each other some slack, shall we? Let’s accept that we are human and make mistakes, some of them with tragic consequences. Let’s concentrate on what we really CAN control–loving our kids and offering mercy to those who need it.
Your blog really touched me.
I have had the same thing happen to me per my own actions. I still blame myself & think of her daily for Twenty years now.
Her name was Samantha.
She was born on October 23, 1983. I was the midwife, in a manner of speaking. I knew her mother since 1979 when we both came into each others lives. I was only 23 in 79. So in ’83, I was ready to help a new life be born.
All went well and her mother and her were together until December 8, 1995 when her mother died. We were both inconsolable. Samantha would not leave her mothers grave site and had to be carried away. life was difficult for a long time. Time went on. We went on a trip thru mid California to visit a lighthouse. It was hot and humid but Samanthe stayed in a nice motel due to the heat. After the hike and lighthouse excursion, we had a great lunch and decided to start back home to San Diego . We were going to see some Missions as well. It was April 24, 1996. Samantha was 12 1/2. It was a nice quiet afternoon drive down highway 101 south just past Sznta Maria, Ca.at Mile Marker…..,( I have blocked it out ). I decided we needed a potty break so I pulled way off the highway to a safe, quiet private place to stretch and have a short break. We both got out of the car together. And proceeded to do our business. She was faster than me and I told her to stay with me. She went ahead any way to see a herd of cattle at a fence. Only thing around was ranch land and oil fields x 20 miles. I immediately called her to come back as she had wandered over to the fence and slid under the gate to see the cattle that promptly ran away. I called her again. She stopped and turned and looked at me and just kept walking. I said you better come back as I can’t get under this fence or gate.
That was the last I ever saw her.
She just vanished. I kept calling but to no avail. I tried to go over the fence. No I couldn’t as it was all barbed wire. I couldn’t go under it as I was to big. I finally tried and tried and I rammed the gate with my jeep type car and low and behold, the 4×4 came out, hit my car, broke my windshield and crashed my hood but who cares. I’m free now to drive and find her. Nothing. I expected to at lest find her face down due to all the cattle but nothing. The cows just looked at me. I do not to this day know where she went. I blame myself daily.
This is a short writing of all that I did to try to find her.
I know how those parents feel.
Even though my baby was a fur baby. I was her world and she was mine. I prayed for a miracle harder than I ever prayed.
Life has never been the same since April 24, 1996. It’s been twenty years
Thank you for reading and for writing what you wrote.
Oh, Tara, that’s such a sad story. I can see you did everything you could. We lost a dog once through my carelessness and I have never stopped feeling guilty about it either. Praying you find peace.
I forgot my son in the car once when he was little. Thankfully I had a friend with me who reminded me to grab him before we got more than 3 feet away. Life is hard. I am so thankful for God’s grace.
Everytime I read people bashing parents, or just anyone who has had tragedy strike, I can’t help but think that they are going through enough without everyone else hurting them more. 🙁 So sad.
Yes! Nothing anyone could possibly say to them could be worse than the recriminations they are already heaping upon themselves. We forgot our oldest at Cracker Barrel once!! We were with friends and came in two cars so we thought they had her. Thankfully, she was older and she was fine. These things happen and most of us end up lucky.
Amen! This world is severely lacking in compassion.
I try every time I read something tragic like this to give the parents grace. There’s no telling what we don’t get told about the situation. I know a family personally who lost their son in a drowning, he was with his grandmother. I know there isn’t a day that goes by that they don’t think about it and she blames herself. It’s terrible when these things happen, but no one is perfect. Heck, a friend of mine was outside with my 19 month old son and he almost ran off the edge of the front curb because he wasn’t listening. I about had a heart attack as I was standing just inside the front door and would’ve broken something trying to get down the steps fast enough. Thankfully my friend caught him and he didn’t get hurt, but one of my neighbors came running outside when she heard me scream my son’s name out of fear. Nothing is ever 100%, ever.
Agreed! One of my spiritual gifts I tested high in is Mercy and my heart just dies for these people who have to live through a mistake that might have been prevented. Such tragedy! However, nothing people say to scold, belittle or “fry” them will help them through it. Grace and mercy are still God’s biggest tools in drawing people to himself. We ought to take notice,remember what mercy we ourselves require and extend a little grace.
Yes! No one seems to care what would really help. I wonder if mercy is less common among the spiritual gifts. It surely seems like it.
Best thing I have read on the topic yet! PS. We still need to have pour political debate!
Thanks, Crystal! I’m ready whenever you are. 😉
We all need to have mercy on ourselves first
you are so right somewhere we all will have a broken moment in life. We need to share with others that we care about them and ourselves
come see us at http://shopannies.blogspot.com
I t breaks my heart to see some of the hurtful things people say. I know if I were in any of those parents shoes, I would devastated to hear the cruel words they speak. These are the times when Gods grace and love need to be LOUD.
Leslie, I love it when you drop in with one of your posts. We so need empathy and understanding. I wonder if the toxic talk is people trying to hide their own guilt and shortcomings. We all make mistakes and need God’s grace.
Bloggers Pit Stop – we love your posts
You so eloquently described my very reaction to each of the tragedies mentioned. I love social media for many reasons, but one thing that I’ve come to dread is the parental judgement that swarms to every tragedy involving a child.
I first became aware of this awful trend when I followed the Noah Chamberlin story- a precious 2 yr old that disappeared while on a walk in the woods w/his grandmother & big sister. They found his body a week later. I sobbed at the very thought of the guilt his grandmother would suffer with, for the rest of his life. I cried over the heart-wrenching devastation that his parents would also feel. And while many, many people were compassionate & sympathetic, there were so many people that popped out of the woodwork, blaming the grandmother. Questioning her reasoning, her sincerity, suspecting her. Accusing the parents of secretly harming Noah, etc. It disgusted me that there was no mercy or compassion in the hearts of these people- only suspicion.
This callous judgement stems from fear, as you’ve said. It’s often the love that we have for children, and when a senseless tragedy happens that causes a child to lose his/her life, people want SOMEONE to blame. There needs to be somewhere to direct the anger at a situation that feels like injustice, but too often- this anger is misdirected at the very people that need the most compassion, mercy, and support.
Sorry for the lengthy rant, but this is a subject that is so close to my heart!