As if Orlando has not seen enough tragedy already over the past few days, a little boy got snatched by an alligator on the grounds of the Grand Floridian Resort in Disney World yesterday. His body was found this afternoon.
I have a two-year-old (and a six-year-old) and I found myself reading every article I could find on the incident online this morning. After reading each article, I let my eyes move on to the comments section. I don’t know why I do this, I regret it every time. The comments section almost always makes me sad for humanity. To be fair, I came across many supportive comments, those that said they were praying for the family, expressing the shock and horror that we were all feeling. And yet, inevitably, there were also shameful comments. Comments that blamed the parents. Didn’t the parents SEE the no swimming signs? I mean, they were all over the place! Didn’t those parents know how common alligators are in Florida and that they feed at night? Where WERE the parents? Why weren’t they watching him closer? Why wasn’t the two-year-old in the playpen 20 or 30 yards away from the water like his sister?
Listen. He was splashing around in less than a foot of water while his parents watched. From the reports I’ve read, it sounds like the father was right there with him. I’m sure the parents saw the no swimming signs, but the kid wasn’t swimming. If I had been at this resort and seen “No Swimming” signs, I would have assumed it was because there were no lifeguards on duty and resort didn’t want people drowning. I would not have assumed that “No Swimming” meant “No Swimming Because There Might Be Gators In The Water”. I’m sure they didn’t know alligators can be found in many unexpected places in Florida or that they often feed at dusk and at night, because they aren’t from Florida, they’re from Nebraska. I didn’t know these things until today either, and I only found out reading articles about the attack and doing some gator research of my own.
These people were on VACATION. I can only imagine how EXCITED they were to be on vacation at Disney. Who knows how long they have had this trip planned. Maybe it was their first time bringing the kids. Who knows? The child was innocently splashing around, with his father, in shallow water. He was probably being a typical two-year-old and didn’t want to sit still in a playpen and got excited when he saw water and wanted to explore. When it comes to what wildlife these parents might have expected their child to come in contact with, I imagine it might have crossed their minds he might find a frog. Not be snatched by a alligator.
This all comes on the heels of the Cincinnati Zoo gorilla debate on whether or not the parents were at fault, whether they should be held accountable for the death of the gorilla.
I am one of those parents that are afraid of everything and it’s stories like these that make me that way. It’s not just that the stories themselves scare me and make me feel all “OMG MY KID COULD FALL INTO A ZOO EXHIBIT. LET’S NOT GOT TO THE ZOO.”
“OMG MY KID MIGHT GET SNATCHED BY AN ALLIGATOR NEAR A BODY OF WATER. LET’S NOT GO TO ANY DISNEY RESORT, EVER. OR ANY BODY OF WATER, EVER.”
What bothers me the most is the the crushing criticism of these parents by the public. Why weren’t you watching? Where were you? Why did you allow that? Why didn’t you stop it? WHY DID YOU LET THAT HAPPEN?
Sometimes things happen. Sometimes accidents happen. We, as human beings, make mistakes. And more than that, we cannot control absolutely everything around us all the time. Some things are just out of our control. I know we all like to think that we can be in control all the time, especially when it comes to our families and our children. But the ugly truth is, there are other factors at play, other factors that can rip that control right out of your hands and push you to the ground and knock the wind right out of you. Things are going to happen, and sometimes, unfortunately, those “things” are going to be tragedies.
So why can’t we just see this for what it is? It’s a TRAGEDY. A family went on vacation and they lost their little boy in a really horrific way. I’m sure those parents are going to have nightmares about what they saw happen to their baby for the rest of their lives. Why can’t we just FEEL for them? Why do some people have to play the blame game? These parents have enough to deal with right now without having to deal with people pointing fingers. They’re probably going to feel guilty all on their own, (not that I think they should, that’s just how this grief thing works). They might regret taking the vacation at all, or at the specific time that they did. They might regret choosing that specific resort. They might regret going out to the beach for that movie night, wished they had just stayed in.
What was supposed to be a special family vacation, to a magical place, something that they were probably hoping would become a treasured family memory that they would talk about for years to come, turned into a nightmare in an instant.
See this for what it is: a tragedy. A tragedy that none of us, myself included, ever, EVER, want to experience.
My heart goes out to this family. If I could tell them anything, it would be that I think they did everything that they could. That they did nothing wrong. And that I wish that their vacation had gone as planned.