May 20, 2011

When Animals Attack...

On May 6th, Sassy had her preschool class field trip to the zoo.

May 6th also happened to be the first day or our garage sale. If we do a garage sale, we always do city-wide, so there was really no room for adjustment.

I trust Sassy's teachers. I trust the way the school operates. I trust Sassy to be a good listener. Honestly, I do.

Still, I had a hard time of letting go for this one.

I am a worrier.

The zoo is a dangerous place. Really think about it. There are a slew of ways to get yourself in a compromising situation there. I think one of my worst nightmares would be to lose one of my children at the zoo. Really.

Preschoolers are, well, preschoolers. Full of curiosity and still actively testing their limits.

Anyway, I was teeming with anxiety over the whole thing.

I felt a whole lot better once I learned that Tom was taking the day off to attend the zoo trip with LuLu, knowing that Sassy would be assigned to his group. I made myself live in the paradigm that Tom was just taking Sassy and LuLu to the zoo, something I would have felt pretty OK with.

Lynzee and I garage-saled on. We had a really great day. Sassy and LuLu looked adorable in their little blue & green Gymboree outfits, and they were so excited to be going to the zoo.

All was well, and then at around 2:30 pm, we were having a lull in the sale, and I was flipping through some apps on my phone. I checked out our local news and immediately saw this headline that went something like this:

Child Attacked by Leopard on School Outing

I can't really begin to describe to you the feeling that was in my stomach. I knew the chances that this would be of personal affect were slim, but that's a headline you never want to read, but especially the day your child's class is at the zoo.

Shortly after, Tom texted that they were trying to leave, and a child had been bitten by a leopard. It was no one from our school, and none of our students saw what happened. Relief.

I'll tell you, though... I thought about this one for days. I could hardly stop myself from reading all the passionate comments here and here, some really well thought out, but most incredibly ignorant.

I read one comment that I felt best summarized my sentiment on the issue. It went something like this:

Let's forgive the child for being a child. Let's forgive the teacher and parent volunteer for being human. Let's forgive the leopard for being a leopard.

Terrible accident? Yes. Do we need to take a better look at how we supervise our children during school outings? Absolutely. Should a 7-year-old know better then to climb a fence at the zoo? I would venture to say yes, although we know nothing of his personal abilities and needs.

But, really, it's a loaded questions, and one I've used since to segue into a great conversation with my families during home visits while looking at expectations of children and specifically talking about some summer safety stuff.

What I believe is this- children often know when they are pushing a limit, crossing a line, breaking a boundary. They may know that they should not run into the middle of the street, play near the swimming pool without supervision, or climb the fence at the zoo. What they most likely lack is an understanding of the gravity of their consequences.

Would you agree?

I know my Sassy knows that she is to stay in the driveway and away from the street while we play outside. She knows that I say RED LIGHT, DANGER when she approaches the street. Knowing my own parenting style, I've probably even told her that she could get very hurt and have to go to the hospital if she runs into the street. But I can confidently tell you that I've never shared the graphic details of how she could struck by a car, crushed, pinned...{loads of other details currently running through my head}...resulting in her early demise.

Get me?

Just something to think about as we head into summer.

I will strive to have age-appropriate expectations of my children. I will remember that they have underdeveloped, immature prefrontal cortexes incapable of adult reasoning and judgment. I will work to not allow myself to become too comfortable or too complacent... anywhere.

Pretty intense, huh?

Such is the responsibility of being a parent. Credit to all of you who are!

1 sweet tweets:

Kendra said...


First of all, I had chest pains reading this. I was nervous for you!

I thought this was a VERY though provoking post. All too often I find myself expecting WAY too much of my 13 month olds. Or, at least questioning if I am...