Photo: Whoops! I haven’t taken any pictures this week! So, here! Have another of the awesome fire pit. To be clear, the fire pit is so awesome that it deserves another appearance on the blog. But still… I should probably take some pictures between now and Quiet Thoughts.
There were many lovely things about my birthday yesterday (THANK YOU to all who sent me birthday wishes!). My husband gave me a beautiful new necklace and a pretty matching bracelet. My youngest went to school until 2 yesterday. I got to go have a delicious sushi lunch with a fantastic friend. I fielded calls from Maryland, always a wonderful thing.
But then the afternoon came, and stuff sorta unraveled. First, I opted to call my Father instead of leaving well enough alone and accepting his annual “happy birthday” text. Second, my eldest came home after another great day at kindergarten and introduced a new idea into the household.
“Wanna see what I made?” He asked as he walked into the kitchen. I was elbow deep in lasagna construction (wondering who the hell makes herself lasagna on her birthday? Seriously? Awful idea. Delicious, but exhausting).
This is not a new thing to do. Usually, boys build with legos in the playroom and then come into the kitchen at regular intervals to present their creations for my praise. I went with the script: “Why yes, I would like to see.”
Major presents a long stack of blue and yellow megablocks constructed in haphazard pattern. One block on the end was skewed slightly off so as to be a handle. “I made a gun!”
What the fuck? Where the hell did you learn that?
(I did not say these things out loud.)
“Oh, um…” I stammered. Minor came in right after him, looking at Major’s creation with the eyes wide with awe. Big Brother has created a new sort of thing. I could just see him concocting his own way of making one.
This is the second time in as many weeks that Major has come into the house with something he learned on the playground that I’m not terribly thrilled about. Some kid at school loves to use the word “freaking” the way that we adults use “freaking” (The exact line that Major is parroting is “I can’t see the freaking numbers!”), and I’m not delighted by it. I’ve told him multiple times to stop saying it. “If you don’t know what it means, there is no reason to walk around saying that,” has been the parental line. It’s only moderately effective at the moment.
“Mommy doesn’t really like that, [Major]. Mommy doesn’t think that guns are toys. Mommy thinks that life is precious, and life has value. Guns aren’t about that at all. So we aren’t going to play gun here.”
Major, of course, needed to ask his requisite “why?”
“Because, baby, guns aren’t toys. They are very powerful and they are very dangerous. They hurt people and they kill people. They serious, very serious things. Where did you learn to play guns?”
Turns out, he learned it from the same kid who says “freaking” the way adults say “freaking.” This is his new chief playmate. Fantastic.
“We were playing soldiers. I asked if I could play and [Freaking Kid] said I could, and I thought that was nice.”
“Well, sweetie, that’s just not how we play, ok? This isn’t how we play. I’ll explain a lot more when you are older but, for right now, you need to understand that guns aren’t toys. Guns aren’t games.”
Now, look… I’m not as anti-gun as you think I am (or may want me to be). My father owned guns, so did my husband. I’ve been to a shooting range and fired a weapon before. There is nothing more terrifying and humbling to me than to know that I can pick up a firearm, point, shoot and hit my target. I want my boys to feel the weight of responsibility when it comes to guns. I want my boys to know how to be safe around guns, to respect and fear guns, and never ever to see guns as toys. I want all the gun safety without any of the gun culture.
And, frankly, this is something I thought I could address when the boys are older. There is nothing in anything that they watch or read or love that involves guns. It’s developmentally inappropriate for 4- and 5-year-olds. And yeah, I actually do think that there is a difference between swords/shields/lightsabers and guns. There is a thin line between fantasy play and real-world stuff, but it’s still a line, and that delineation is important.
“This isn’t one of those things where you guys get to keep pushing and poking at the line until you figure out what does and doesn’t make Mommy. Leave this one alone, do you understand me? We will teach you about this when you are older, but now is not the time and I am very serious when I tell you that we aren’t fighting about this. Do you understand me?”
Both boys nodded their heads. I don’t know how seriously they are taking me. I know it didn’t come up for the rest of the night.
Recounting the story to The Husband, I huffed, “Damn, this makes me want to homeschool them. I mean, for the love of God!”
“No, you don’t. You know you don’t.”
I don’t. Diffusion of new ideas and the expansion of boundaries is one of the chief reasons why school is important. It’s a good thing for Major to be exposed to what the rest of the world has to offer, bring those ideas home, and then have to evaluate the values of his family versus the values of the rest of the world. I recognize that there will be times when he will break with us. I look forward to the times when he challenges us and we get the chance to evaluate together. But, for now, I am enjoying my waning reign of absolute authority and unopposed arbitration over what’s right and what’s wrong in his world.
Kindergarten, man… full of all sorts of things I wasn’t anticipating!
See you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.