Why I don’t Hate ‘Gorilla Mom’

Brady ran into a lake the other day.

We were standing on the pebbled beach, throwing little stones into the quiet water and watching ripples dance across the surface.  My hand was resting lightly on my little guy’s shoulder, so that he wouldn’t get his sneakers wet (should he decide to step a little too close to the water’s edge).  With my other hand, I sipped an iced coffee (despite the chilliness of the day) and willed the caffeine to take affect.  Nate threw stones far into the lake, promising to one day teach Brady how to skip pebbles.

The moment was calm, and relaxed, and perfect.

At one point, I put my coffee down, and Brady eagerly rubbed sand onto the straw.   So I bent down to clean it off as best as possible…using both hands.  Nate was in the middle of throwing a rock of his own.  And as I stood up, in a matter of seconds, Brady dashed straight into the cold water.

It wasn’t just his shoes.  He ran full-speed until the water reached his waist, and he instantly froze.  I had to dash forward to grab him, and then I ran our dripping wet little boy back to the car so that he could be stripped and taken home for warm clothes.

Brady was never in any danger, and it was a cute story to tell the family that night.  But it made me think…  We blink, and our toddlers get into something they aren’t supposed to.  And more times than not, the innocent misshap leaves them with wet sneakers, messy clothes, or maybe even a little bump.  But sometimes, the moment turns terrifying.

Most parents have had ‘one of those’ moments.  At the same time, most parents don’t have to deal with the accident going viral.

I wasn’t at the zoo the day a three year old crawled over a partition and fell into a gorilla exhibit.  I can’t tell you – for sure – who was at ‘fault’.  But what I can tell you – for sure – is that it was a horrifying experience for all involved.

I’m not sure when it happened, but we all suddenly need to pick sides.  We need to be Team Gorilla… Or Team Mom…  And we need to create Memes to attack the other side, so that we can stand on our soapbox and declare ourselves ‘right’.

I actually read a comment the other day, where someone said that the mom should be shot just like the gorilla so that she could have a taste of her own medicine.  WHAT?!?  I was beyond horrified…

A mom lost sight of one child while taking care of another, and she looked away at the wrong moment for too long.  A beautiful, endangered animal was killed.  All-around, it was a horrific accident

I feel as though we’re all wound up so tight that we forget we’re all human beings.  We’re Americans.  When it comes down to it, we’re all on the same side.  We might have differing opinions sometimes, but that doesn’t mean we need to lash out in anger and violence.

Why do we have to pick sides?  Why can’t we mourn together and agree that something horrible happened (and maybe learn from what happened as well)?

I know that a lot of people out there have expressed hate towards the mom who looked away long enough for her child to fall into a gorilla exhibit.  But I can’t…  I can’t, because my little boy ran into a lake.  And like every single parent on the face of this planet, I have made – and will make – mistakes.  The difference is that most of our mistakes will not go viral.  Or result in the tragic loss of an animal’s life.

That poor mom has to live with this mistake for the rest of her life.  The zoo has to move on, realizing that they put down one of their most treasured animals.  And so, I’m choosing to not pick sides.

I’m choosing to be saddened by what happened…for all sides involved.



2 thoughts on “Why I don’t Hate ‘Gorilla Mom’

  1. I so agree with your stance on this! It’s a sad situation all around. And who are we (the general public who weren’t even present) to place blame anywhere? Let’s just be sad together and glean what lessons we can from it.

    Also, what happened to Brady totally happened in front of me just this past week too! I was photographing an 18 month old by a lake and while I was photographing away, his mom was keeping an eye on him to keep him from running right into the water. Wouldn’t you know… it still happened. With two adults WATCHING him. He still managed to run faster than either of us expected and ended up completely drenched and muddy. Once we were sure he was okay, we laughed about it and I took a few photos to commemorate the moment. But what if there had been a snake or a big rock or any other hundred things that can happen? Like you said, most of the time these things happen and the worst is that there’s a bump or bruise and a funny story to share. But sometimes it’s more serious than that and unfortunately for this other family, they’ve been thrust into the spotlight.

    Ps. I’m glad Brady was okay!

    1. Those pictures of the little boy running into the lake must have come out SO cute!! It really is amazing how quickly they can get into things… or run into a lake. 😉
      It’s sad that in this society we live in, people (moms in particular) are so quick to judge and pick apart stories, forgetting that those traumatic stories belong to someone’s life.
      Did you hear about the alligator at Disney? I cried when I read about that… 😦 It made me hold Brady tighter.

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