Dear parents of the boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure

Dear parents of the boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure,

Most days, on the school run, someone loses a child. The gates close and everyone runs round shouting the name of the wandering preschooler. We’ve all been there. I know I have. Stood chatting to a fellow parent I assumed my 3 year old was where he normally was, picking up sticks behind the classroom.

Except he wasn’t. He had walked down the driveway and was a few
minutes from where I stood. And, after five long minutes looking for him, when my breathing had calmed enough for me to ask him why on earth he’d walked away without me, his answer was simple, ‘I thought we were going to the park, mummy. So I was going to the park.’

It wasn’t a pleasant experience, but one – even after three children – that taught me never to assume. That their little brains are always one step ahead and revelling in their own little world. And I was lucky. Only a handful of friends saw my panic and whitnessed my lapse in childcare.

Sadly the whole world is aware of your mishap. And horribly judging you for it.

I’ve seen reports saying the zoo you were at heavily relied on parental supervision in order for, not only the children, but the animals to remain safe. And I think this is outrageous
Children are nifty. They are often unaware of danger. They don’t check where their parents are as they assume they are always close by ready to save them from trouble. They take it for granted that we have eyes in the backs and sides of our heads. And all it takes is one split second for them to be gone. They are sneaky little devils. Inquisitive. Adventurous.

I’m pretty sure you weren’t being neglectful – and I’m positive that if you were you’re not feeling happy about it now – and I’m saddened at the way you are being judged and berated for what could’ve happened to many parents.

You’ve all learnt a lesson that has been very public and you’ve been condemned for it by people who aren’t prepared to see the whole picture and are quick to attack. Just like the monsters who killed the gorilla your child was with.

As I grow older zoos are losing the appeal they once had. I’m not sure caging animals for our entertainment, even with the best intentions, is a good idea. Having people watch you and monitor your every move cannot be pleasant, as I’m sure you are experiencing right now – not nice having your actions recorded and commented on, is it?

I hope you’re not in the limelight too long, and that those judging you realise that they don’t know all the facts and so cannot ever really know what happened.
I hope you’ve learnt never to assume.
And I hope you’re okay.
From, me x

 

Has anything angered you this week and made you want to write a letter? If so write to me at jen.faulkner@bristolwoman.org.uk

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