What happened recently at the Cincinnati Zoo was tragic.
Could it have been avoided or prevented? Possibly. But, the truth of the matter is? We’ll never know for certain.
We can speculate all we want. We can form any number of scenarios in our heads. In reality, what happened has happened and what’s done is done. A rare gorilla is dead.
And all of the judgemental people, on both sides, have come out of hiding.
It won’t be the first time that something like that happens and I’m sure it won’t be the last. There will always be freak encounters, tragic accidents, rare occasions. Moments where children are unsupervised for mere seconds. Moments that could turn into heartbreaking tragedies. As a mom of an autistic child who wanders? This particular situation really hit home with me.
Because all it takes are seconds. Not minutes. Seconds.
Blink and your child has run off. Blink and your heart drops to your stomach. Blink and your worst nightmare is unfolding before your eyes.
Those (hopefully) one-off incidents, where seconds could mean the difference between a feel good, made for TV, hits-you-right-in-the-feels, ending and a mournful tragedy. Those incidents which most parents never have to experience.
Those incidents are a painful reminder of what some parents go through daily. About having to be hyper aware of your surroundings because you know that at any given moment; your child might bolt.
This most recent incident has reminded me of a few things and also taught me a few things about myself.
It has reminded me that the internet is one of the most judgemental places ever. Far worse than the girls locker room in high school (and we all remember how judgy that place was) or a public beach at the beginning of swimsuit season. Far more gossipy than the juiciest episode of Gossip Girls.
The internet is filled with judgemental people.
I should know because I’m one of them. I am one of those people who will judge others based on numerous grammar and spelling errors. And while I may not openly attack them; yes- I am sitting there judging them.
I am one of those people, one of those moms, who was quick to place the blame on the mom. Never factoring in or reminding myself that this could have been me. That I have been there. That my child has wandered away.
I have read numerous posts from fellow bloggers, and articles from news sites about this situation. I held my toddler in my lap while I watched several videos.
And yet, I still judged.
No one is perfect.
In spite of my judgement, the judgement from others, and all of the finger pointing at the mom and the zoo; there is one common thread. One common bond between all of us.
None of us are perfect.
For the ones who are saying that the mom should have been more vigilant, to the ones who put the blame on the zoo for not building a better enclosure, and for the ones who are blaming the mom and the zoo (that would be me); we are still in no position to judge this situation. Really, we can speculate about what we could have done. We can think that maybe there were measures that could have been taken to prevent this.
But this brings me back to wandering and safety measures and parenting an autistic child.
Children who elope are escape artists.
The child who wandered into the gorilla enclosure went through some pretty amazing feats and safety measures to get to his destination.
And I get it. I can understand that determination and I can relate to that child’s resolve.
Because my daughter has done it. Numerous autistic child who elope have done it.
As parents, we do whatever we can to keep our children safe and to hopefully prevent tragic situations from happening.
But we aren’t perfect.
We can’t do everything, we can’t predict everything, and sometimes we just have to accept that some things are just going to be out of our control.
Facebook is like high school.
I should say social media in general but let’s stick to Facebook for now.
After this incident, people were quick to share their opinions through the form of memes and inspired posts. Mostly in support of the gorilla and in judgement of the mom.
I’m one of those who shared a meme that supported the gorilla.
I’m one of those people who believe that the true victim in this situation is the gorilla.
Do I feel badly for the child?
Do I sympathize with the mom?
Do I agree with the zoo’s decision?
The answer to all of those questions is yes.
And yet, I’ve also seen the contrasting opinions on both sides. That this was entirely the fault of the zoo or that this was entirely the fault of the mom. Some of the posts on Facebook are like traffic accidents- you just cannot pull yourself away.
It reminds me of high school.
Life is precious.
All life is precious. Humans, animals, reptiles, fish, insects… you get the picture.
And no, I don’t mean in the sense of conservationism and going vegan. Certainly yes, the environment is important and we could all do with a little conservation when it comes to energy use.
I mean in the sense of cherishing every moment that you have.
Because in mere seconds, that could be taken away from you. In mere seconds, tragedy could strike. It only takes seconds.
In mere seconds, your life could change.
So appreciate it. Be grateful. Say thank you. Tell people you love them.
One incident involving one child, one mom, and one gorilla.
Their lives were changed in a matter of moments.
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