Last night, a 2-year-old boy was dragged into a manmade lake by an alligator at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Orlando. As parents, we concoct a lot of crazy “what if” scenarios in our heads, but this is beyond comprehension. According to reports, the Nebraska tourists were hanging out by the lake at around 9 p.m. as their toddler splashed around at the water’s edge, when a roughly 7-foot-long alligator snatched the boy and pulled him into the water. The father rushed in to try and free his son from the alligator’s grip while the mother rushed in right after, searching for her son, but apparently the alligator got away, with the boy.
I mean … oh my god. I can’t even imagine.
And here’s the thing: As parents, we spend our lives caring for our kids and making executive decisions in their best interest, but at a certain point, it’s out of our control. Sure, we can decide how much TV they watch and whether it’s safe to walk home from school alone, and then we can reward them for good behavior. But never in a million years would any parent think that a family vacation could end with a child being mauled by a vicious reptile. Even worse, the boy’s body has yet to be found.
The poor parents. That’s all I can think about. They’re said to have other children, too. I can’t help wondering what is going to be in store for those kids. Did they see it happen? If so, I can’t imagine the horror they’re going through, as well. But even if they didn’t actually see it, the entire family will be traumatized for life. It’s like the gorilla that attacked a little boy at a zoo in Cincinnati. In both cases, kids were just doing what kids do — playing and maybe being a little mischievous — while their parents watched them from a few feet away. Is that too far? I have never been in favor of child leashes, but is that what we’re supposed to to on vacation, now? Put our kid on a leash at all times to prevent animal attacks? In both cases, the animals were euthanized, and I think that’s pretty horrible, too. In fact, in Orlando, even after four alligators were put down in order to determine which one was involved in the boy’s death, investigators still hadn’t found the one.
Everyone has an opinion, and everyone will find someone to blame, but I don’t think I can. I mean, who? The toddler? The hotel who’d put up a “No Swimming” sign, but not a “Beware of Deadly Alligators” sign? Or the parents? Maybe it’s the parents who are at fault, but as a parent, I just can’t blame them. Those people will spend the rest of their lives blaming themselves — but they were just being parents. They were taking their kids on a family adventure, and they were enjoying a warm Florida evening at their resort. Maybe they were distracted by the other horrible events in Orlando, days earlier — I know I have been. But this tragedy is not their fault. Their lives will never be the same, and my heart goes out to them for their unimaginable loss.