Let’s Judge a Little Less*
I just read an article about a coyote attack at a park in a city not far from me.
It was the second incident in under a week–two different parks, but in both instances a child had been bitten. The headline and story were upsetting, but the comments below it were what truly bothered me.
“These children need to be taught better.’
“Where were the parents?”
“What kind of parent would allow a child to approach a coyote / wild animal? I would NEVER do that.”
“So sad when parents don’t watch their kids at the park.”
“I bet the mom was on her phone. I see it every day.”
“Who was stupid enough to leave their child alone? LOL.”
Most of the comments were absolutely dripping with condemnation and judgement. You could feel it through every word, and the tone of previous comments seemed to embolden others.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many “perfect parents” who would “never let such a thing happen” all in one place.
Honestly? It just made me so sad. It made me sad that it happened at all, and sad that this was where the comments landed.
My kids have never been bitten by a wild animal at a park, and I’m grateful for that.
…but have I ever taken my eyes off of my kids for a second while there? Absolutely.
Yes, I’ve checked my phone while out at the park with my kids. When they are busy playing and all seems calm, sometimes I have just needed a moment to breathe and distract myself in the middle of a chaotic day. Sometimes taking that moment helps me to be a better mom. Maybe I look like a careless parent if someone were to look at me in that exact moment and *only* see that.But often, there is so much more people *don’t* see.
Maybe this parent wasn’t watching their child when it happened… but why do we always assume the worst? Why do we automatically assume neglect?
What if this parent took their eyes off this child for a moment because they were dealing with a crisis with their sibling? Or another child?
What if they were watching their child and the child ran and did it anyway?
What if this parent was just really overwhelmed and got distracted, just for a moment?
What if the parent legitimately thought that the coyote was a dog?
…what if the parent wasn’t a perfect person, but were trying their best anyway?
I am not trying to make excuses for what happened. Luckily both children were okay. A mistake was made.
…but in my eyes, until I know more, that’s what it was. A mistake. A quick error in judgement that could happen to any of us.
It could definitely happen to me.
I think I can count the number of “perfect” park trips I’ve had with the kids on one hand. Someone always gets hurt, or in a fight, or doesn’t listen, or needs my individual attention in some way that pulls my full attention away from the others.
It happens. It’s real life. I do my best.
I’m choosing to assume that these parents were too.
It’s so easy to judge another, especially when we think something “shouldn’t have ever happened”. (But who ever expects to go to a playground and see a coyote in an urban area?!)
I don’t know this parent’s story… but I imagine they didn’t ever expect this chapter to be part of it.
I just think the world would be a better place if we could all judge a little less, love a little more, and extend a little more empathy and kindness toward one another.