It’s been six days since a toddler boy, Lane Graves, was killed by an alligator at the Disney Grand Floridian Resort and I can’t seem to shake the sadness I feel for his family. I mourn this little boy with these parents every day that I see a new headline. I see his beautiful face in my Facebook news feed and my heart drops. I picture my own two year old son Leo and the depths of despair I would feel if I lost him so tragically, making this story hit particularly close to home.
Bad things happen every day. Countries are at war. Radical terrorists are killing innocent people. Unsuspecting moviegoers are shot in the movie theaters — the list goes on and on. It’s all horribly sad; we take pause when we see the news. Our hearts break for the fallen, and then… we move on. Life goes on, and sadly, another tragedy will soon strike.
But this story continues to haunt me.
My active two year old son has one speed and one speed only: TURBO. He’s nonstop, and requires near constant supervision. He listens sometimes, but mostly not! He has a mind of his own and he’s 100% BOY. I’ve been saying that I want to take my kids to Disney World and stay at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for months now. But now I’m rethinking a resort built around a lake with alligators. My son loves to swim and I imagine he would run towards a body of water if we were walking along the sandy, inviting shoreline at this resort. Even if we saw a sign that said “No Swimming”, and forbid him from going into the water, I’d be lying if I said he’d adhere without attempting to splash around despite my orders. And quite frankly, not being a frequent Florida vacationer, or a resident of Florida, I’ll admit that I probably wouldn’t assume alligators would be swimming in a man made lake within a Disney resort. A lake just feet away from the pool and splash pad where children play daily. Call me naive, but I certainly know now that alligators are in EVERY body of water.
People like me, who wouldn’t have necessarily assumed a “No Swimming” sign meant WARNING ALLIGATORS AND SNAKES, definitely have learned a tough lesson. It pains me to think this gray area ever existed with such a threat lying just beneath the surface at a Disney resort, of all places. In my mind, Disney should be one of the safest places on earth for children and families; where our safety is their utmost concern. Not having a warning sign that clearly says “alligators present”, or an image of alligators for those who cannot read English just boggles my mind.
And it also bewilders me that people have shamed the parents for allowing their son to play in the water despite a no swimming sign. Have these people never had a two year old child? Do you know how easily they can slip out of your sight for a split second, which is all the time they need to take a bad fall, or dart out into a parking lot with cars passing through? The Graves family also have a four year old daughter, as do I, and your attention is constantly diverted from one kid to another. Perhaps they thought the shoreline seemed harmless. I mean, they were sitting on the beach enjoying an evening showing of Zootopia, put on by the resort. If alligators can come onto land and cross highways in search of other bodies of water, is it inconceivable that an alligator could creep onto land and snag an unsuspecting child? How lax could Disney be in this regard? Again, it’s mind boggling.
I said this on my Facebook page causing quite the debate, mostly in favor of my position, but I believe Disney should be held liable for this gross oversight and be held completely responsible for the death of this small child. I do believe Disney will do the right thing and pay out whatever is owed to this family in immeasurable damages.
Often times I get tired of chasing my son around. He drives me up a wall and it seems like I’m constantly redirecting him, scolding him, and putting him in time out for unfavorable behavior. They call it the terrible twos for a reason! As you can imagine, my favorite part of the day with Leo is when I get to rock him to sleep. When his turbo speed has shut down and he’s Gumby in my arms. I relish in the peacefulness of these moments. In the last few nights that I’ve rocked him to sleep and he dozes off in my lap I think about how lucky I am to hold him like this. I caress his pink cheeks and comb my fingers through his baby fine blonde hair, and I squeeze him a little tighter. When I lay him in his bed I have a pang of sadness as I cover him with his blanket and think about how the parents of Lane Graves will never get to rock their son and put him to bed again.
This is a terrible tragedy that could have been prevented. Yes, lessons have been learned, signs were immediately changed, and Disney will likely pay a lawsuit and life will go on. But these parents nightmare will never end. And for that, I mourn the loss of this child with this family and pray for peace and comfort for the days, weeks, months, and years that it will take for this family to heal. Hug your little ones tighter tonight, for tomorrow’s are promised to no one. God bless.