My husband and I once walked this planet as part of the species known as the Smug Parent-To-Be.
Oh, we were so smug and all-knowing. We wielded The Family Edict on just how things would be in our house. Our children would always act in love and no games involving weapons would be allowed. Our children would only know the ways of peace, brotherly love, and a gentle regard for family members.
We trusted in the belief that if you raise a child to hug every tree and walk this earth with a spirit of communal living, you were guaranteed a home where birds, butterflies, even Cat Stevens himself would come knocking on your door, wanting a ride on your peace train.
Armed with this Family Peace Mission Statement, we started our family. That first baby was so sweet, we had another. Our hearts burst with joy at seeing our two little ones laugh and love each other in our Garden of Eden, that–what the heck–we threw in a third.
Soon, our babies become little children and we introduced them to only non-combative toys. No swords, sabers, guns or weapons. We parented with a get-down-on-the-floor engaged style, and interacted with a capital I.
One day while they played, we heard Pow! Pow! I shot you.
Come again? What did you say? We don’t shoot people, remember?
Yeah we do and I shot him. Pow. Now I shot you too.
Now the other one says, No you can’t shoot me because I shot you before.
They shot each other before? and OMG HOW LONG HAS THIS BEEN GOING ON UNDER MY ROOF? Then the baby on my lap pops his drooly forefinger out of his mouth and points it at his brothers screeching BANGBANGBANG.
What just happened?
The first time my children saw guns at the toy store they asked me what they were and so I told them. Oh. Those? Those are blow dryers.
When they asked for the Thousand Bucket o’Soldiers like the one in Toy Story, I didn't buy it. But my mother did. Then I had to stay up until 3 a.m. snipping off a thousand one-millimeter guns off the ends of tiny soldier arms with my hair-cutting shears. The aftermath on the kitchen floor, littered with the microscopic machine guns of Operation De-Weaponization, looked like something from Gulliver’s Travels.
The truth is this: Children are fascinated by weapons. They will chew their morning toast into a Saturday Night Special, slap two sticks in the backyard together with a broken rubber band or take the $100 Lego Creation kit you got them for Christmas and build a Winchester out of it.
They will call it their Alien Weapon, Protector, Guard’s Tool, King’s Friend, Village Scarer, Bad Man Chaser, Good Guy Maker, Dragon Getter, Contest Winner, and anything else they can think of but they will not call it a gun.
Because you told them guns were bad, and we don’t play with guns.
But you never said they couldn’t pull a blow dryer on their brother.
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