Parents, I beg of you, stop blaming and shaming other parents.
35 years ago, a mom shopping in a Sears department store went to go look at lamps, and left her six year old with another group of boys, who were all trying out the new Atari game at a kiosk. That boy’s name was Adam Walsh.
30 years ago, an 18 month old toddler playing in her aunt’s backyard fell into a well. Rescuers worked nonstop for 58 hours, finally freeing “Baby Jessica” from the well.
In both cases a tragedy happened, an unforeseen tragic accident took place which left Adam dead, and a toddler fighting for her life deep underground. But they also has something else in common; they had an entire country of moms and dads supporting the grieving parents.
Let me repeat that, EVERYONE SUPPORTED THE RESCUE EFFORTS WITHOUT BLAME. NO BLAME. None. ZERO.
No questions asked, not one single “Where were the parents?” comment. Just a country of other moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas watching in horror as a set of parents, one of their own, went through the unthinkable. Adam was our son. Jessica was our baby daughter.
THOSE PARENTS WERE US.
Flash forward to 2016, the year of THE PERFECT PARENT.
Yesterday, a two year old boy, splashing in the magical lakefront waters of a Disney Resort, succumbed to the wilds of mother nature. An aggressive alligator scooped him out of the water, right under the watch of his father, who attempted to fight with the alligator to free his baby son. Pure horror. Sheer Terror. Parents who actually had to watch their baby be taken from them, as if they were in some African nature documentary.
A tragic and unforeseeable accident. An accident.
I weep for this mother and father. I am sick with anguish for the pain, agony, misery, and regret pulsating through their viens this very second. And I bet you are too.
But not everyone is.
You see, we now live in a time where accidents are not allowed happen. You heard me. Accidents, of any form, in any way, and at any time, well, they just don’t happen anymore.
Why? Because BLAME and SHAME.
Because we have become a nation of BLAMERS and SHAMERS.
And how are accidents allowed to happen if we can’t blame someone? Surly, they can’t, right? I mean, random acts of nature, unpreventable tragedies, and fateful life changing events that take place in a matter of nanoseconds cannot possibly take place if everyone is being a responsible parent, right? NOPE.
They can’t, because this country and its population of perfect pitchfork carrying mothers and fathers sitting behind keyboards needs to accuse. They NEED TO BLAME, to disparage, to criticize in every damn way and at every damn corner, the parenting of another.
And when do they really get to lick their blaming chops? When a tragic accident happens. That’s when the pouncing is at its freshest, when raw emotion and ignorance collide, and they dig their word claws in, and take hold of whatever grace these grieving mothers and fathers have left in their souls.
And then they tear it out.
Listen to me very clearly perfect parents, VERY CLEARLY.
I’VE HAD ENOUGH.
I’ve had enough of scrolling through comment threads and seeing over and over again questions like “Where were the parents?” and thoughts like, “This is what happens when you don’t watch your kids.”
I have simply HAD ENOUGH.
I have one question for the blaming and shaming moms and dads. You know the ones who immediately blame the parents, the ones who go on the internet and type comments like, “This is nothing but neglect by the parents,” and “They should have known better. Who was watching that little boy?” and my favorite, “I would never let that happen to my kid.”
Here is my question,
Have you ever been to a child’s funeral before?
The funeral of a child is an event in life that you never, ever want to experience.
Now let me ask you another question.
In the coming week these parents will fly back to their home in Nebraska without one of their children. They will leave a vacation resort, packing up his Buzz Lightyear pajamas and his favorite blanket, and they will make an excruciatingly difficult journey home. A journey that they never in a million years thought they would be making.
They will meet with a funeral director, pick out a tiny casket, a tiny burial suit, and surrounded by family, they will bury their baby boy.
And they will suffer every single day for the rest of their life.
At the funeral for this two year boy who died in front of his parents, can you do me a favor? Can you walk up to the mother and say the words that you just typed out last week? Can you? Can you greet her, hug her, shake the father’s hand and then say, “ Who was watching that little boy? You should have known better. I would never let that happen to MY child.”
Can you do that for me? I mean, you felt those words so deeply in your heart and soul that you typed them for a million people to read.
Certainly you can say it straight to the faces of the people you meant it for, right?
Here, let me help you.
Put away your pitchfork for a moment and try this.
To the mother and father who went for a walk on vacation for the last time with their little boy yesterday, I am deeply sorry that you had to experience the worst kind of tragedy possible, an accident. I grieve with you. Your baby was my baby. Your son was my son. I have nothing but love for you, love to help you get though the pain yesterday, today, and for what is gonna seem like a thousand tomorrows. I wrap my thoughts and prayers around your aching heart and soul. May the God of this universe in some miraculous way bring peace to you and your family.
That is what you say. THAT. And just THAT.
Stop the blaming.
Stop the shaming.
In their darkest hours, can we please just LOVE other parents. Please?
1. I’ve done more laundry this week than I do during the school year. STOP with the 10 towels a day kids. For the love of Downy Unstoppables just freakin' STOP. See the TOWEL hook? Use. It.
2. We’ve done outdoor play and non screen time this week and I think it was wonderful. Now, please take the iPad and go binge watch something until next Wednesday.
3. My grocery bill is going to triple over the next 8 weeks. Last night at 10 p.m.someone asked me what was for “second” dinner. I guess we are summer in Spain’s time zone.
4. One of the kids hasn’t taken shower since last Saturday. This and #1 do not make sense. And I don’t think I want to know where the towels are really coming from.
5. I have already read one book. Not one I had planned to read, not a bestseller, a book club choice, a must read, or a deep and moving piece of quality literature. Thank you Carl Hiaasen for once again writing characters that make this “one sandwich short of picnic kind of momma” feel normal. And laughing really, really hard. Summer satirical fiction at its best.
6. Waking up at 9 a.m. every day is lovely and a blessing but I FEEL LIKE A SLOTH. Do I set my alarm next week or continue my post traumatic school year disorder sleep recovery therapy?
7. By the way, Jiffy Pop works as a second dinner. So do burnt marshmallows. And bomb pops.
8. Someone at Milton Bradley really needs to update the board game “The Game of Life.” A Victorian house with a library, parlor, servants’ quarters, marble fireplace, and wraparound porch for $200,000? For me and my three cars and five sets of boy/girl twins? Show me the way.
9. Ice cream cones make everyone stop talking.
10. Grateful for living without a schedule, a to do list, a deadline, a homework assignment, and a sports practice. Amen summer. Bring on the next two months!