At the risk of making enemies by taking a strong political stand, let me explain that at my house, we are decidedly anti-guns. We are not hunters, and we believe that if you own a gun, there’s a good chance that gun will end up hurting you or your family.
Naturally, like parents everywhere, we try to bring our children up to share our views, or at least to understand them. So I decided not to let my now 5 year old son play with toy guns, which broke his little heart. He embarked on a campaign to change the status quo, and enlisted every passing stranger in his battle. Enter the man who built our jungle gym.
My son loves workers and artisans. The dirtier and smellier they are, the more likely he is to fling his little arms around their legs and declare his love. The jungle gym guy was an instant hit. Unfortunately, he also took it upon himself to tell Thomas that if he had a gun, he could use it to shoot birds.
Thomas shared this with me with great glee. He seemed to think it would address all my concerns. I knew it was time for a mother-son talk, and took him for a walk, his hand tucked in mine.
I explained that if he shot birds, they would bleed and feel pain. I used the analogy of his pets – our dogs and cats – and asked him if he would want them to bleed and be hurt. I explained that when guns are used to shoot animals and birds, it is not fun, but painful and bloody. (He understands blood from his frequently scraped knees).
Eventually, I looked down at him and said, “Do you understand what Mommy is telling you, love?”
“Oh yes,” said Thomas, with an emphatic nod to his head. “But you mustn’t worry any more, Mommy. When I get a gun, I’ll only use it to shoot people.”
I think the expression that people use is “parenting fail”?
On a more serious note, I recently relaxed about guns a bit. I first allowed water pistols, and then they got fancy space guns as a party favour, and I did not have the heart to say “no”. But I have to be honest, I regret it. I think maybe if you have a really gentle sort of boy, a toy gun does no harm. But my sweet boy also has a streak of aggression, and with that gun in his hand, it comes to the fore. I’ve hidden the gun at the bottom of his fluffy toys but I’m not quite brave enough to throw it away. After all, he might shoot me . . .