A couple of weeks ago, I was driving to an early morning appointment, when I happened upon a group of elementary aged students waiting for the school bus on one of those last days of school. What struck me in that moment was that there were three moms waiting there with a group of 6-8 children.
Fast forward to the events of this month where that precious child was attacked by the alligator in Orlando, or even to the toddler who fell into the gorilla enclosure at the zoo. What disturbs me most is the rant on social media against the parents of these children – a sort of social media piling on, blaming the parents for not paying close enough attention to their kids.
Now I am anticipating the typical backlash from those who will point out that I’m nobody’s mommy, but my head just wants to scream out…
It was an accident, people!
Horrible, terrible, accidents that these poor parents have had to endure – the worst imaginable moments of their lives…and instead of finding support from other parents, they are attacked from all sides.
And now here’s where it gets dicey –
I really hope that this doesn’t cause parents to keep an even closer grip on their children. There has always been danger of one type or another. Remember when Baby Jessica fell in the well and a nation held its breath during her rescue? When I was in elementary school, we would practice drop and cover drills, all climbing under our desks as if that was going to save us from the pending nuclear attack. And there have always been perverts out there. I can remember my friends and I running home from the park to tell my mom that there was a creepy guy in the bushes. Talk to any senior in Europe, and they will tell you how horrible it was to live during World War II. If that’s not enough to make you grab your child and hold on tight, I don’t know what is.
Dangers have always, unfortunately, existed. What has changed significantly is our immediate and unrelenting access to media coverage of every.single.horrible.event. And it’s got parents scared. So scared that they are afraid to let little Johnny or Susie out of their sight for even a minute, for fear that the terrible things might happen to them.
And that, I believe, is doing a tremendous disservice to this nation’s children. It saddens me that kids no longer play “kick the can” in the middle of the street. While I’m fairly certain that they are smart enough to yell, “CAR!” (remember, how everyone scattered?) – they won’t ever get the chance to test those independence skills. Or to just take off on their bikes with a bunch of friends and hang out in the neighborhood because mom said, “Go play outside!” Or to be able to start a pick-up game of baseball without adult assistance, coaches, refs and umpires. You know, just kids with a ball and a bat in a vacant lot. Or how about walking along that split rail fence – Yes, I know, they could fall and break their arm. But shouldn’t they be allowed to try???
Not really a retirement post, I know. And I’m pretty sure I’ll get blasted from well-meaning younger parents in defense of keeping their children safe. But I’m curious about your opinion…