How long has it been?
I have been trying to avoid this subject, a subject that has dominated the news to an almost hysterical level not seen since Princess Diana got in a car with a drunk driver at the wheel (or did she??? And who cares???)
The week before last a little girl was stolen from her hotel bedroom in Portugal. A lot has been said about it and emotions are causing normally rational people to fight amongst each other on the technicalities over what went on and the strong opinions it has garnered. This is fact:
On that Thursday this 3-year-old child was left alone with her 2-year-old twin siblings while her parents had dinner with friends in a "nearby" restaurant. At some point during this time, and between the 1/2 hourly checks on them, the girl was taken.
Now there is no way for me to avoid the crows of disapproval so let me first lay down what I personally feel. Although I do have some sympathy for her parents the person I am more concerned with is the missing child. To leave 3 children under the age of 3 alone, out of earshot, out of view is just irresponsible and dangerous. Now under no circumstances, as the hysterical will cry against my views, do I feel the fact they left her alone means the parents deserved their child to be taken. That idea is abhorrent and quite frankly immature of those who use that as an argument against those of us who feel a huge mistake was made.
The next argument I'd like to blow out of the water is that we should not criticise the parents, they are going through enough. True. But if that criticism stops just one family doing similar while on holiday then it has been worth it. Being a parent is 24 hour risk assessment, we shouldn't smother but we should understand that leaving such young children alone, in a strange country, in a strange bed was a risk too far.
Abduction aside - what about fire? What if one of the children had woken up in unfamiliar surroundings crying out for mummy and daddy? Checking on the children every 1/2 hour as was claimed would not have saved them from nightmares, a fire, any other danger you could think of.
Another hysterical viewpoint is that it could have happened with the parents there or not. Yes, these things happen, but there is a vast difference from cases where the child is snatched from their house while the parents are there or, like Sarah Payne, snatched while out playing with siblings and one where the child is left alone.
There would have been much more criticism against the choice the parents made had they been from a poorer background, that I have no doubt. Then there would have been no one jumping to the defence of the parents, despite the fact that no one is directly attacking them. Just highlighting the consequences of their actions. The only person/s to feel guilt, to feel the hatred of everyone is/are the person/s who took her.
As a parent I can't help feeling strongly, I will not apologise for my viewpoints and having read forums and blogs on this I am a little disgusted at how sanctimonious and self-righteous some people are in their unwillingness to acknowledge the mistake made. To eat in a restaurant 50 yards away, separated by a swimming pool, bushes, hedges, wall and pathway, leaving your children in an apartment with easy access to the road right next to it, well on holiday or not that would have had most people's risk radar flashing like mad.
You have children, you are responsible for their wellbeing and safety while at home or on holiday. When we were in Belgium last year we were sitting beside the enclosed childrens play area when over the tannoy came a call for us. With leaping hearts we rushed to the reception to discover that, under our very noses, youngest Hobbit, had sneaked out of the play area to go to the toilet and had asked a startled Dutchman to help him wipe his bottom! The thought of what could have happened had that Dutchman not been a bemused, kind man who immediately went to reception to say there was a child alone in the toilet was unbearable. A lesson was learned by the Hobbits who were given another stranger danger warning.
Now that happened while we were relaxing on holiday. See how easy it happens. But we were there, we had not left them alone in the play area to go get something to eat. The shame we felt at being caught out as bad parents, despite the staff finding it quite funny that this little boy asked someone to wipe his bum was immense. But yet we felt we had let him down, we hadn't noticed him walk out of the play area and away from where we thought he was playing in the huge network of slides and tunnels that made up the equipment. Leaving them in there would not have been a consideration, we had them, they are our responsibility.