Saturday, January 3, 2009

Baby's First Brass Knuckles

On my son's sixth birthday he unwrapped his first gun and then the family sat down to a breakfast of pain au chocolat. Now, let it be known that chocolate croissants and armaments are not a mainstay of our household, but rather a special treat. Let it also be known, when I say armament, I mean cap gun.

Immediately, we went outside and shot off a round. And anyone who's ever owned a cap gun knows, only one in seven caps really work. You got to jiggle the paper and release the mechanism, realign the caps, really one of the most frustrating toys ever made. Sebastian was thrilled.

I realize guns are a tetchy subject in today's mothering world. As a matter of fact, even I have been part of the parenting faction that openly chided gun play between children. "I am raising my boy to be a sensitive, caring individual and that means no guns, no weaponry of any kind, and while I'm at it, no McDonald's."

But let me say as a previous gun owner, squirt not .45, I never wanted a real firearm after my various array of water pistols and BB guns. Sort of like I never wanted to capture the neighbor child using some elaborate ACME booby trap, because I watched numerous hours of The Road Runner. I mention The Road Runner because professionals cited that as the most violent cartoon in my day. I'm not really sure why Wile E. Coyote's hijinks were considered more hostile than Sylvester's or Dick Dastardly's or Bugs Bunny's.

On his birthday, Sebastian was going to open his presents after dinner, but I wanted him to have a small something before going to school. I ended up at Von's, our version of Safeway, at eleven pm the night before. This is where the cap gun comes in. It was all they had, besides pretty ponies and plastic insects, of which my son has an entire plastic swarm. I was at such a crossroads as to whether the gun was a good idea, I called Michael. With an unsure quiver I explain the situation, and without hesitation he says, "Get the gun," sounding like a small time hood from a Dirty Harry movie. Of course, I recognized my own overprotective programing and blithely tossed the gun into the cart. I bought me a firearm at the super market!!

I have to wonder if raising soft boys, even girls, has to do with the war. Reading today about the Gaza Strip has gotten me all touchy-feely with my kids. It makes me want to cultivate their sensitive sides and have them only eat organic vegetables. But let's be reasonable, the occasional Big Mac will not ruin a well balanced diet, much like owning a toy gun will not make our youth want to go out and cap some guy's ass. It's moderation, pure and simple. We have tipped much too far towards soft and cuddly, and to all of us namby-pamby parents, I say, "Hassenpfeffer!!"

There's a story my dad tells, and please apply an Oklahoma accent as you read the following: "My father, your grandfather, had this German Luger. And he was showing it to a friend and didn't know it was loaded. Well, he pulls the trigger and that thing fires. The bullet makes a hole in the living room wall, goes through the next room and almost hits that colored gal who used to work for us."
I should mention that this was the first time my dad met my future husband, and Michael is very much African American. As I nonchalantly picked my tongue up from the floor, Michael calmed me with a look. Everything was going to be okay. He figured my dad was just living in the moment.

The point is, I am not handing my six year old a loaded Luger. And of course we have rules... Only outside (the gunpowder smell is reason enough.) Keep your fingers away from the hammer when firing. Do not aim the gun at anything living, your sister, the dogs, anything. And never ever use the phrase "colored gal."

I am sure, soon enough, he will emotionally have to deal with the world of real gun violence and actual prejudices and warring factions and even the stark reality that he has two dads. But for now, let him enjoy his cheap piece of molded plastic. Bang, bang.

6 comments:

Sherry said...

My favorite toy as a child was my cap gun. I loved the smell of exploded caps. We played cops and robbers and any other neighborhood game that would require a firearm. I am not now, nor have I ever been a homicidal maniac, although I am a homosexual. Was it the cap guns? Hmmm....makes me wonder.
Great blog, bubbe.
Hugs, Miss Sherry. www.nethernetherland.net

Vodka Mom said...

that was f***ing great.


bang, bang.

Scary Mommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scary Mommy said...

You know, I made a vow before children not to let mine play with guns. Not in a "I am raising my boy to be a sensitive, caring individual and that means no guns, no weaponry of any kind, and while I'm at it, no McDonald's," way, but just a "there is enough violence in the world without letting kids play with guns way."

So, now my children make guns out if spoons, shoes and bottles. I guess it's inevitable. (But I don't have any problem with McDonald's, for the record.

Fluffy said...

I used to work at a daycare centre that didn't allow kids to play with dinosaurs because they were too violent...

I also used to work at a daycare centre where outside, the kids chased each other around with pretend swords pretending to be pirates.

We could have taken the swords away but instead brought in books, toys, had discussions, and led the kids into a month long journey into the world of pirates.

Interestingly enough, they no longer chased each other around trying to kill each other but instead buried treasure, made maps, drove pirate ships, and said, "arr" a lot.

They sure learned a lot ... and I was happy to have left the anti-dinosaur centre :)

CSY said...

WOW! I like this post! I know I'm late, but better late than never - right? It doesn't matter if you don't buy your sons guns, they'll make them outta whatever they can find. I grew up with 3 brothers and no guns in the house, but they were ALWAYS 'dying by gunshot'