Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The quality of mercy (my take on that gorilla incident)

When I first saw the news item about a four-year-old boy somehow ending up in an enclosure with a gorilla, I said, "Where was the kid's mother?"  

My husband and I kept wondering and discussing it for two days.  Why would you not watch your child in a place like that?    

But yesterday I remembered something that had happened to me:  On an spring day in 1968 as a new mother, I took my one-year-old baby boy out in the yard to play because he loved being outside; I stationed myself inside at an open window where I could see him all the time and talk to him often.  I was sitting sideways on the couch cutting out a pattern (trying to learn to sew, but that didn't work out): I would cut a bit, look up and see my baby, say something to him, and go back to cutting.  Cliff was at work.  I was keeping a sharp eye on my kid.

And then I looked up and he wasn't there.  I didn't panic.  I figured he had toddled around the corner of the house.  But when I circled our house, he was nowhere in sight.  We lived in the country at that time, with no close neighbors.  He couldn't have been kidnapped, but he was gone.  Now I panicked.  As I was heading around the house one more time, I heard the faint sound of brakes being applied in the direction of the county road down below.  When I looked toward the sound, I saw a car stopped, a lady getting out of the car, and my baby lying in the middle of the road in front of the car.  

I will never know how my baby made it to the road that quickly.  Our house sat quite a way back from the road.  Jimmy didn't even walk that well yet, but he either went down the gravel driveway or through a meadow and across a ditch to get to the road.  Either path would have been rough for him to navigate.  

He wasn't hit by the car, he was just lying there on his stomach, and the lady picked him up.  I ran to the scene as fast as I could, thanked her tearfully, took my baby from her, and hugged him as hard as I could.

Here's one more incident, from two years ago.  It was toward the end of a day babysitting Cora.  She wasn't walking yet, but she could crawl like crazy, and she was crawling around in the grass having a blast.  We were watching for her dad to come and pick her up.  In our front yard is a small lot where I kept my calves. Her daddy drove up the driveway, got out of the pickup, and came toward the house.  As I began talking to him, his face lit up in a grin.  He was looking out toward the small lot, so I turned to see what he was grinning at and there was that baby, IN the little lot with the calves.  Probably the worst thing that could have happened to her would have been that she'd eat some manure, because she was at that stage.  But how on earth could she  have crawled straight to the only spot where she could have gotten under that fence and into the pen in such a short time?

A witness at the scene of the terrible incident with the gorilla said, "Her attention was drawn away for seconds, maybe a minute, and then he was up and in before you knew it."

It's time we stop judging people for simply being human.  Let's get off our high horses and deal with something else now.

“The quality of mercy is not strained.

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."  William Shakespeare


"He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her."  Jesus



11 comments:

Sharron McKee said...

In fact, we are given children from God. He helps us take care of them, because they are children. My family all know, I'm the worst person to take care of children as I have the attention span of a fly. We all know God has had to work over time helping me, watch all the children who have been in my care. I agree, children are so inquisitive and move super fast!

Leilani Lee said...

You are right, Donna. I expect that just about every parent, if they are honest, has probably had a similar thing happen to them, where they took their eye off the child just for a second and lost track of the child. It is a sad thing that the gorilla was shot, but I think a child's life trumps a gorilla's. Everyone is pointing fingers in all directions trying to attach blame. Obviously, the zoo needs to do some work on its barriers.

TARYTERRE said...

Such an incidence gives us all cause to pause. Because in one way or another we've all been there, you're right.

Calfkeeper said...

Yes, it is very easy to point fingers and attempt to pin the blame on someone. But I agree with you because there is nothing faster than a toddler, and when you are distracted with so many people around you, it's easy to misjudge how long you had your eye off of your child.

Besides, I'd add that as a parent myself I would have probably assumed that the enclosures would all be child-proof. I doubt I ever would have thought a 4 yr old, or anyone of any age, could have penetrated the barriers and been able to jump into the moat.

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

Personally, if someone told me they had a child who never got out of their sight before they realized it, I would seriously doubt them. No doubt children are quick, and surprising! Both of mine did things in a couple of minutes or less. Luckily, none ended badly. Some even make for funny stories. All of our elders used to send all the children outside together and didn't see them for hours. The older ones were responsible for the little ones.

I also think from the shots I saw that the gorilla didn't mean the boy any harm. But that said, he seemed to expect the boy could keep up with him like a small gorilla could. And any animal can easily use more force than a small child can handle. Very, very sad the beast was put down.

I do think it is possible that the zoos enclosure hasn't been updated in quite some time. Things should certainly be rectified, for the safety of children, but also for the safety of the animals.

Barbara, blogging at Life & Faith in Caneyhead

Jackie said...

Thank you, Donna! Ever since this hit the news I've seen nothing but mean and nasty comments and pictures of the gorilla with derogatory hurtful things being said about the mother. I've defended said mother with the same basic thing as you. Stop judging! Can any one of us as so called "good" mothers ever say that we never once looked away for a moment and lost track of our child? I think not. Leave this poor woman alone, for heavens sake. I'm sure she feels horrible about both her child and the demise of the gorilla. I'm with you...move on to something else...PLEASE!

Patrick said...

Great post, Donna.

My question is this: if we can't put ANY blame on the parent here, do we put ALL of it on the zoo?

Playing Devil's Advocate here, the zoo's setup protected people for 37 years — that's more than a full generation of people who didn't make it past the barrier to such a dangerous point. It passed inspection after inspection, and was deemed so safe it became the model for other zoos. Does it seem right to believe that the zoo is solely at fault here?

Or is the answer that it was a freak accident and NO ONE is truly "at fault."

Callout said...

My two year old is like that. She is adventurous and curious, so you can't take your eyes off of her for a second.

I like to keep her in overalls because the straps in back make a ready handle to pick her up like a hand bag.

Callout said...

Forgot to add, stuff happens. When my firstborn was maybe a yearold and asleep in her room- I just finished putting my wifes car back together in our driveway.

I left for a quick test drive, doing a quick loop of the 4 major freeways that would bring me right back to our house.

Then I realised, I FORGOT MY KID WAS HOME ALONE! Everything turned out OK, but I felt horrible. Funny thing is I even held her over the engine just two hours before, "These are the cams, those are the followers, etc."

Callout said...

Forgot to add, stuff happens. When my firstborn was maybe a yearold and asleep in her room- I just finished putting my wifes car back together in our driveway.

I left for a quick test drive, doing a quick loop of the 4 major freeways that would bring me right back to our house.

Then I realised, I FORGOT MY KID WAS HOME ALONE! Everything turned out OK, but I felt horrible. Funny thing is I even held her over the engine just two hours before, "These are the cams, those are the followers, etc."

Callout said...

My two year old is like that. She is adventurous and curious, so you can't take your eyes off of her for a second.

I like to keep her in overalls because the straps in back make a ready handle to pick her up like a hand bag.