A few weeks ago I had a gathering of good friends at my house. It was a fantastic weekend , in which we threw our best parenting judgement to the wind. Our children were jumping in my pool long past midnight and eating junk food in excessive amounts until 2am. Yup, those kids should have been in bed. It was totally irresponsible parenting according to the status quo and in the process we helped create memories that will last a lifetime.
Oh and there was that one time I let my daughter watch a movie that was definitely a little beyond her years, but good gawd it was going to give me two hours of peace and quiet on a road trip, so out the window went my common sense. Oh, oh, and let’s not forget about the time that I took my two year old to Midnight Mass at Christmas and she wailed through the whole thing.
And then there’s this.
There was that one time I took my 9 year old daughter to see a midnight movie screening because she’d been begging me for months to see it and I thought I’d do something totally crazy and fun with her. But she was shot and killed by a madman, and my heart collapsed from the grief. And in the midst of all this people immediately started to call me a bad mom for having her there at all.
Unbelievable, isn’t it?
It’s hard to believe it happened at all. It’s a completely unimaginable, horrific reality, and yet, there it is. Screaming at us from every media outlet today.
So many parents lives were changed forever yesterday. Pain, horror, guilt, grief, anger, are only some of the emotions these poor people with have to deal with for years to come. They should have nothing but our complete sympathy, but instead the judgers come out, in record time really, to shame the parents a little more.
I certainly hope none of them live in a glass house, throwing stones about like that and all.
Really? You ask who would take a three month old to movie? Maybe a mom who was breastfeeding and wanted to see a great movie and figured, reasonably enough I might add, what harm could come of this? She wasn’t walking the infant into a war zone, but a theatre. And three month olds, being three months old and all, generally eat and sleep pretty much anywhere. And the six year old, well, who knows why they were there, but it’s possible the parents had a momentary lapse of judgement. LIKE.WE.ALL.DO. And the other side of the coin is that the parent thought maybe their kid could handle it. Does it really friggin’ matter at this point?
While, quite obviously, this didn’t happen to me as described above, I’m trying to make a point. A “walk a mile in their shoes” point.
I, for one, wasn’t handed the Perfect Parenting manual when my children were born. Different parents are going to make different calls. Sometimes they’ll look back and cringe. Sometimes they’ll look back and smile. I may not agree with everything you do and vice versa. I’ll share my opinion, you’ll share yours. We’ll both move on.
Today though, the bottom line is this; nobody, not one single person, in that theatre thought something so awful could happen. It is just as tragic that a 13 year old was shot and killed as it is a 3 month old. The grief is no different for those left behind.
Sometimes it’s nice to throw our judgment around. We’re entitled to do that. It can change opinions, it creates discussion and hey, sometimes it just brings you page views. Whatever makes you happy. But when parents are grieving in a way that is completely unimaginable to any of us, it’s time to put your stones away.
Pleasantville Postscript: I am overwhelmed by the response to this article and by the many thoughtful comments left behind. I have struggled for days about responding to those that are clearly in disagreement. This is what I’ve decided upon. By engaging in an argument with them about the merits of whether a young child should have been at that movie or not, I am bringing the conversation exactly where I didn’t think it should be. I don’t think I could have been much clearer in this post, so I am biting my tongue. I love those of you that didn’t.