Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Just shoot me already

My Mother the Crazy Hippie ran a pretty lax household, but one rule was etched in stone: no toy guns, ever. No pointing fingers, no crafting weapons out of cardboard, no squirt guns. And I suppose it worked, because I grew up with a passionate hatred of guns. My deep and abiding love for Jack Bauer notwithstanding, I had every intention of raising my children the same way.

And then I had a boy.

My mother had it pretty fucking easy if you ask me. Oh sure, we put her through hell during our estrogen-saturated years of adolescence angst. Just ask her—she’ll be happy to tell you all about it, in gory detail. But banning guns from a boyless household is kind of like forbidding my husband to wear my panties. (No, really, it is.)

Yesterday marked my first encounter with gunplay, preschool-style. I was working at JJ’s preschool when I noticed a gang of four-year-old boys furtively aiming rakes at each other behind the playstructure. I sidled up to them to see what was going on, and they scattered across the playground. A little later, I saw them at it again, and this time I caught the words “soldier” and “kill.” I honestly felt a little bit sick.

Those of you with brothers or sons are no doubt laughing your asses off right now. I dramatically reported the preschool gun episode to Jack at dinner, and he looked at me like I had just disembarked from my spaceship. “Um, yeah. That’s pretty much all we ever played when I was little.”

JJ observed the whole gun posse from the sidelines. I’m pretty sure he had no clue what they were doing, but his interest was clearly piqued. After a few minutes, he ran up to me and told me he was Dorothy (from the Wizard of Oz) and he was going to use his magic shoes to protect me.

I’m sure I’ll be staring down the barrel of a gun any day now, but for now, I'll hang on to my ruby slipper-wearing bodyguard.


Student Nurse Jack said...

No guns in our household's toy chests, either. And my boy is turning 7 next week.

Here in Texas, we know many hunters. I grew up in Iowa with a dad that hunted ducks and geese. I learned about the overpopulation issues and have tried to tell my kids that responsible hunters abide by them. I still hate hunting as a sport, but it is a traditional bond for many families here, so I try not to care.

I've always told my kids I don't like guns because they can be used for the wrong reasons, and too often are. Our society has become immunized from the serious potential for death they carry. They are glamorized, and our children become desensitized to the danger.

My W. takes the same interest your son does - kind of watching from the sidelines, but not really caring to get involved. DH is going to teach him to shoot a BB gun and later, rifle skeet shooting at targets when W's old enough, if he wants, or he's got an uncle and a neighbor friend to take him hunting if he wants to go.

I taught Sunday School for a while, and would marvel while I watched the tamest of boys nibble his graham cracker into a perfect rendition of a handgun. It happens, and I cringe right along with you.

Alisyn said...

No guns here. But just like you guys, we had our first "gun play" at preschool Friday.

Haze & two other girls were the "good guys" chasing a couple of boys playing"the bad guys" with "gun." When I asked what that was, she didn't really know, but thought it had something to do with "purple stuff" (blood?) and fireworks.

Scary. If it was happening everyday, I'd be worried. As it stands now, this is a first (that I know of) and fits in with Hazel's frequent interest in death, dying, etc. I'm not really sure what to think.

Off topic: Want to get together soon? I'm thinking drinks and dinner...

happygal said...


I'm really savoring the fact that the boy is still so little and won't have any concept of weapons for a while (unless you count all the shoving and hitting, with his hands, that is...)

S told me that when he was a kid they didn't play with guns, just matches, fire and explosives.

I can feel my hair graying by the minute.