Monday, March 14, 2011

A Boy and his Gun

Today was Big! Playdate! Day! here. And I know you are wondering how I could possibly manage to sit and write with a playdate going on fast and furious behind me.

I can write, because the playdate is OVER.

It all started with a NERF gun.

I am very anti-gun. We do not hunt. I do not know how to shoot a gun. I am not comfortable around guns. My parents never had guns, nor my grandparents. I am blissfully gun-ignorant. And I like it that way.

But not Max. Max has been fashioning guns out of everything from toilet paper tubes to sticks to pieces of plastic pipe to Legos. He has been known to duct tape pieces of wood together into the general shape of a gun. And each time, the weapon was taken away and we would repeat the mantra "Guns are not Toys".

Except, guns ARE toys. They have gun video games at the amusement center. There are water cannons at the water park that shoot water 50 feet in the air. And there are NERF guns.

Max has been begging for a NERF gun for months. Years. FOREVER. And for Valentine's Day, I succumbed and bought him one. Touching, isn't it? What better gift for Valentine's Day I ASK YOU. I went to Walmart, and I stood there for over an hour carefully mulling the options. And man, they got options. There were guns of all shapes and sizes. I was horrified at the selection, dumbfounded by the packaging illustrating all the many ways you could use your gun to shoot things. So I chose the one that seemed least "gun-y". It came apart! It could be put back together! You could make three different KINDS of guns with it. IT HAD A FLASHLIGHT. It was the swiss army knife of NERF guns.

And he was thrilled. He ripped open the box. I was declared "The Best Mom Ever". And then, within 5 minutes, he wanted to go back to the store. He needed more accessories. More foam bullets. I said no. Absolutely not.

A few days later, a friend came over - and brought a duffle bag FULL of NERF guns. They immediately set about "optimizing" the gun Max had just gotten. Making it shoot further, faster, with more noise. They wanted to spray paint it silver, which I flatly refused. I was horrified. This was exactly what I didn't want to happen. He was making the gun more, well.....gun-like. But they seemed to be having fun, and laughing, and it was foam bullets. A few days later, I even let him get a few extra foam bullets for the next time he had a friend over. I could see how it would be fun. I tried not to make a big deal out of it.

And I know I played my hand right, because in a few days he was bored with the whole thing. He didn't have anyone to shoot the gun with. And he certainly wasn't allowed to shoot it AT anyone. We had ground rules: he had to play with it outside, and not around younger children. And he could play NERF with another kid only if that child ALSO had a NERF gun, so that I knew the mom would be okay with it. With all of those rules, the gun sat in his room, dismantled. Sometimes he would half-heartedly reassemble it, but mostly he just sat around turning the flashlight on and off.

Eventually, he went back to his Legos, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Until today.

Today, we had two kids over to play. This was the house of fun. I was making a pot of tea for the tea party, and cutting up strawberries, when one of the little girls came down the hallway and said "At least I got one of his bullets!" She held a neon orange foam "bullet" up in the air.

I dropped the strawberry I was cutting, and marched down the hall.

"I want that NERF gun in my room IMMEDIATELY." I informed him. I was very calm. There was no shouting. It was just a clear statement. Smaller kids were around, the NERF gun should not be. And certainly not in my house. I stood in the doorway to his room, with my hands on my hips.

 He turned around, and was holding the biggest, hugest NERF gun I had ever seen. It was absolutely enormous.

It did not turn into a flashlight.

I almost threw up.

It's size cannot be overstated. It was a bazooka-sized gun. I held out a hand to take it, and almost dropped it on the floor. It weighed at least 10 pounds.

All of the accessories were brought into my room. And both NERF guns. Because now there were two of them.

While I was in LA last weekend, my husband apparently took my son out and bought him the largest NERF gun on the market.

No discussion (although there were weeks of discussion before the purchase of the first gun).
No notification.
In fact, it was the very gun I had specifically told Max he was not allowed to have, because it was unnecessary and aggressive and yucky.

After the guns had been confiscated, he went into his room, got his electric drum kit and synthesizer, brought them out to the den, and began to play. I walked up quietly and bent over him. "Take those back to your room. Now. And close the door."

Then he decided that the only thing left to do was go outside.
And play on the street.
Without permission.

Lucy promptly followed him outside and proceeded to pull out her bike, planning - apparently - to ride it without the benefit of helmet OR adult supervision.

The other mothers were called. These are mothers who do not own guns, who are not comfortable around guns, and who do not buy toy guns for their children. I apologized profusely that the gun(S!!!!) had been brought out. I also apologized for the children being outside without my knowledge or permission (The boys walked out while I was feeding the girls, Lucy walked outside while I was peeing. BECAUSE GOD FORBID I GO TO THE BATHROOM.)

The kids are now in their rooms. Thinking about rules, and making good choices.

Sami is officially sleeping on the couch. With the new NERF gun shoved as far as possible up his ass.

And I am taking a muscle relaxer, because my jaw is clenched so tightly I am afraid I might break a molar.

***I am not posting about the tsunami because here in Hawaii I was completely unaffected, and while some parts of the island were flooded and damaged, it was minimal compared to Japan. I have seen several videos from the regions affected most seriously, and know that my experience with the tsunami, or the lack of the tsunami, or the annoyance with having evacuations and sirens all night long, well......I got nothing. I just don't have anything to say. I send my thoughts to the people who's lives were devastated - or ended. The phrase "take the high road" has a whole new meaning.***

1 comment:

STATJR said...

I would like to respectfully suggest that at this point you continue the opportunity to educate your son about firearms. Being from Colorado, I have grown up with hunting and guns and prior to being paralyzed was working towards a career that would have required me to carry a gun, law enforcement. It is apparent that you son is fascinated with guns and that can be a VERY dangerous thing. (I personal also believe it can be a very fun and rewarding thing.) However, no matter the opinion about guns, educating him about firearms, through a program such as the NRA's Eddie Eagle Program is wise. It will teach him to understand why guns are dangerous and understand how to act around all types of guns, real or toy. Eddie Eagle can be found here: