There are times when being a parent is so incredibly, indescribably rewarding, and times when you are convinced that you are doing it wrong and have failed your children miserably, and times when you think you are doing alright only to have everyone around you say otherwise - sometimes more directly than others, but the message comes through loud and clear.
10-4, good buddy. I get it. I'm the village idiot.
Folks, this (ex-) smoking, drinking (on the weekends), half naked (as often as possible) tattooed and mohawked roller derby-loving mother is here to announce that she is one of the most uptight people you are ever going to meet. At least where guns are concerned.
Tonight, I sat and watched a tribute to Adam MCA Yauch, a tribute with three little kids re-enacting the Beastie Boys "Sabotage" video that all of my friends are "liking" on Facebook, and I cried. I cried because little kids were shooting (pretend) pistols at other little kids, and mannequins dressed like little kids were being thrown from overpasses and MY GOD PEOPLE WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE? And I wondered what MCA himself would think, seeing little kids dressed up and pretending to shoot guns at each other in honor of his memory and accomplishments. I don't know what he would think, but I can tell you what my reaction was. I was seriously bummed out.
Instead of thinking it was funny, or great, I was profoundly disturbed (you know, more than usual). Gawker pronounced the video's director as being on the short list for Father of the Year for making this video with his kids, and it has almost 180,000 "likes" as I write this, so clearly I am the one who is delusional and over-protective, and I am here to say THAT IS OKAY BY ME. The video is upsetting and disturbing and when the mannequin went flying through the air towards the ground my hands involuntarily flew up and covered my face, even though I knew it was not an actual child. I didn't like this video. Nor did I "Like" this video. And I am not going to share the link here because I found it so totally inappropriate and upsetting and creepy.
I don't like kids playing with guns. I know, I know. You have heard me talk about this before.
For years I have struggled with buying toy guns, and I have used this blog to hash out my feelings on the subject (sorry if you are sick of my talk therapy, but not to worry - no one else reads these anti-gun posts either). First the water pistols, then the Super Soakers, then Nerf, and lately Airsoft - Max has been intrigued - nay obsessed - with being well armed at all times since he was a toddler. When I refused to provide him with the weapons he felt he needed to survive the mean streets of preschool, he fashioned them out of sticks and pipes and Legos and whatever else he could point at people in a threatening manner. I have been told this is common, but Oh! It made me sad. And years of being asked, begged, coerced, and circumnavigated to get the coveted gun toys had worn me down. Friends have tried to convince me that I am over-reacting, making too big a deal out of it, kids being kids and all of that. Loosen up, mama. And I tried. I tried to be loose. But it didn't work in my twenties, and it isn't working now.
I thought that if I tried to avoid having Max go on playdates with kids that had gun toys I could avoid this issue. But then all the kids had toy guns. So I drew the line at Nerf. Orange foam darts, okay. Pellet guns, sling shots, paintball, and anything like that? Nope. When I found out that a parent of one of his friends had a gun (guns?) in the house, I stopped letting Max go play there because the thought of having a conversation about gun safety with another parent made me weak-kneed. I managed to neatly avoid any major conflict until last month, when he was invited to a birthday party - a party where kids were going to celebrate a child's birth by arming themselves with Airsoft guns and heading into the woods behind a playground to play sniper.
We don't shoot people. Can't that be a rule? I feel like it's a good rule to have. A simple guideline. Targets yes, tin cans sure, animals maybe, people ABSOLUTELY NOT. Even when you are 18 or 21 or however the hell old you have to be to arm yourself these days, and can buy your own gun, it will never be acceptable to shoot people for fun. You don't need to practice shooting people. Shooting people is not a game, therefore it is not okay with me that you run around in the woods shooting people. If I was taking a walk in the woods on public property in a public park and someone shot ME with an Airsoft gun, I would be really pissed. If someone hit one of my kids, I cannot say what I would do. I plead the Fifth. I can tell you that if my kids were playing on a playground and a bunch of older kids ran by brandishing rifles I would call the police. It is harder and harder these days to tell a toy from the real thing. I don't know the difference between an Airsoft and the real thing even up close - how can anyone be expected to know from a distance? Because the Airsoft has an orange tip? I'm not going to be looking for the orange tip if some kid is shooting a gun near a playground. And if someone's toddler got hit by a wayward pellet, I am pretty sure there would be hell to pay and a lawyer to speak with.
I get that there are plenty of people who disagree with me. It's no big deal. Kids will be kids. It's just a game. Kids have been given BB guns for years. Paintball is fun. Airsoft is harmless. And to that I say "You'll shoot your damn eye out."
No, not really. Listen, I don't have a problem with adults owning guns, I have a problem with people - and especially children - shooting guns for fun. Guns aren't fun - they are scary and they can kill people. Which is why I have a huge problem with people shooting other people for any reason. Even as a game.
And here's where the irony and my inner conflict come in to the conversation:
I have nothing against hunting animals for food.
Please don't tell PETA because I don't want photos of dead animals in my inbox. I am many, many things, but I try not to be hypocritical, and so after long and careful thought I found my line in the sand. And my line is drawn between shooting animals, and shooting humans.
I believe that there are benefits to thinning the herd and I am a meat-eater who loves venison. THAT'S RIGHT I ATE BAMBI'S MOTHER AND SHE WAS DELICIOUS. And I would almost prefer a hunting party than playing a game where the object is to shoot at human targets. Is that crazy? Nonsensical? Well, don't tell me you are surprised - when was the last time I made any sense whatsoever? Thank goodness someone as obviously crazy as I am doesn't own a gun.
36 minutes ago