The What Ifs of Parenting

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‘Other than basic fire and safety codes, how can we allow such places to run without strict regulations that not only protect their patrons but protect the park itself in cases of litigation’


Alicia Chamely
By Alicia Chamely

WHEN it comes to children, even the most vigilant parent can get caught off guard and in those seconds, minutes, the worst can happen.

In 2019, I lost my daughter on Pigeon Point beach. One minute she was in front of me, I glanced to the side and when I turned back to where she was, she was gone.

What followed was what could not have been more than five minutes but felt like five hours of sheer panic. Never in my life had I felt more scared. The fear I felt was crushing, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think straight, all I could do was scream her name and search.

Turns out homegirl decided she was tired of playing in the sand and went back to our hut for a juice box. When my husband and I finally found her, I didn’t know if I wanted to choke her for leaving my side or hug her and never let go.

Needless to say, after that ordeal, we left the beach, but the feeling of guilt stayed with me for days. Worse-case scenarios played on repeat in my head, along with a medley of “what ifs”. Had something happened, I would have been the only person to blame.

Neil Transport Services

Many of us have been asking to whom the blame should be placed for the tragic deaths of five-year-old Damari Jeffrey and three-year-old Shazade Simon.

Jeffrey drowned in the adult pool at Fun Splash Water Park in Debe while attending a family gathering. Simon passed away from complications to burns she sustained on over a quarter of her tiny body after accidentally tripping and falling into a pot of boiling water days earlier.

Who is to blame?

In the case of little Damari Jeffery, his grandmother stated she believed his life could have been saved had lifeguards been on duty and this is where that situation gets complicated… for me… at least. First and foremost your children are your responsibility, especially when water is involved.

Not to sound insensitive but the reality of the situation is Damari’s parents dropped the ball. A five-year-old should never be let out of your sight near water and from what we can gather is that amid good ole lime, there were no eyes on Damari.

You cannot assume other people will look out for your child, even family members. The responsibility is yours.

But as I said, even the most hawk-eyed, paranoid parents have slip ups. Parents are humans.

I cannot say if his life would have been saved if lifeguards were on duty or if the water park had a trained EMT on staff, but does it not seem ludicrous that someone can open up a water park and not have trained medical personnel be present?

I searched to see if I could find any regulations dealing with the operations of water parks in T&T and didn’t find much of anything. Other than basic fire and safety codes, how can we allow such places to run without strict regulations that not only protect their patrons but protect the park itself in cases of litigation.

Yes, accidents can still happen, but the risk of death is minimalised due to lifeguards, EMTs and protective measures in place. Us parents shoulder some blame for this too. As parents we should not be taking our children to places that do not have the resources nor staff needed to handle emergencies.

The owner of Fun Splash said there were “pool attendants” who were previously “life guards” but had their job titles changed due to parents expecting them to babysit their children.

So again, parents need to take responsibility. No one is there to look out for your kids other than you.

The case of little Shazade Simon crushed me. In my opinion what happened to her was an accident and accidents happen to us all. People have been especially hard on her grandfather and mother. I am sure what happened, happened in the blink of an eye. Little Shazade tripped and fell into a pot of peas being boiled on a floor cracker. She was quickly removed; cooled down and rushed to the hospital.

It was an accident. Yes, having children around cooking is dangerous, but not everyone has the luxury of being able to have a babysitter or someone who can watch their child when they must work, which is what Shazades’ mother and grandfather were doing… working.

The losses this week and those of last week, because lest we forget FOUR CHILDREN WERE SHOT AND KILLED IN THEIR GUANAPO HOME, should be a wakeup call to all of us that we need to more to protect our children.

As parents we need to step up, we need to demand more from ourselves and the places we patronize. As citizens we need to pressure our government into doing more regarding social services that provide affordable childcare for working parents, that provide work shops and psychological support for parents, accessible and widely promoted mentorship and empowerment programs in our schools and communities in efforts to strengthen our youth against falling into the trap of crime.

We all need to do better, because all it takes is a microsecond for a trip and fall, a head underwater, a predator in our home or community and when that happens the only person, we can blame is ourself.



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