Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 191

Today, in the mad rush that is our standard morning routine, Jules went missing. We found him out in the driveway shooting hoops. Jon gave him a stern "you can't leave the house without telling us" talk and hung out with him and Kai outside while I finished packing little boys' lunches and locating my keys. (The latter of which is also part of our standard morning routine. Pathetically so.)
Ten minutes later, the boys and I piled in the Swagger Wagon and headed to school. En route, I felt the need to discuss further the idea that exiting the house unannounced (when you're four) is verboten. I wanted Jules to realize why we have this rule: It's a safety issue. We're not unfair dictators. 

Jules got it. Totally. And since things were going so well, I decided to tack on a new lesson: the "don't talk to strangers" spiel. Which is a tricky topic for me...  a person known to gather the entire life story of a friend of a friend of a friend at a party, a person who recently introduced herself to another young family because of paths crossing repeatedly around town. (Hell, when you're riding on the same tractor at Shelburne Farms for the third time, you should be on a first name basis, no?)

This is the only kind of weapon we shoot 'round here.
Anyway... Jules's response: "What's a stranger?"

"Well... it's a person you don't know," I told him. "And it's not a good idea to talk to people you don't know when mom or dad isn't around."

Even as I delivered this message, I wasn't sure it was quite right.

"Because they're bad guys?" he asked.

"Well because they might be people who do bad things." I am not speaking confidently. I wish I'd read up on how to handle this talk before launching into it.

"Do you and dad have guns to fight the bad guys with?"

Guns?!? WTF?

I explained that, no, Daddy and I do not have guns. That we do not fight people. That fighting is usually a very bad idea. Because people get hurt. 

Eventually, he tired of this topic and we started looking for people walking dogs. 

We live in a hood with a bunch of seven-year-old boys (really great seven-year-old boys, I might add) who, I suspect, play "gun games." I assume that this is where might be learning about guns. I don't know. What I do know is this: I do not want my boys playing games that involve pretending to shoot people. Ever. Fellow parents, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic, whether they're aligned with mine, or totally not... 

PS: For the record, this isn't intended to be an opinion piece on gun control - which certainly can be a complicated issue. But the idea that preschoolers can somehow absorb the idea that shooting bad guys is simply "what you do" deeply disturbs me. 



  1. Great blog post Nicci .
    Hearth Health Jim

  2. Although, I do not enjoy the pitter patter sounds of little feet brightening every moment of my day, but i do spend substantial amounts of time observing and enjoying other peoples kids and in so doing I have picked up some sage advice for parents. No one really wants parental advice from a non-parent, but the non-parent has the clarity the parent can't always achieve.

    My observation, in this area, is that soon your sons will be shooting you with everything. Utensils, toothbrushes, veggie sticks, regular sticks, etc. will become loaded and lethal at some point in a boys life. This behavior is trickling down from the slightly older kids. Another important lesson here is not to discount your knowledge of "great" seven year old and stick to your "Guns". Pier pressure resistance training can never start too soon.

    The bottom line is that it is every parent's responsibility to teach your children well. Repetitive, well meaning lessons that teach cause and effect, reward and consequence, etc. are the make up of our character.

    Guns can make people feel bad, unnaturally powerful, and other confusing emotions. I'm not sure one should ever feel happy or want to play guns.

    I am NOT a parent.

    1. Thanks for the note! I should have specified that, indeed, I want to hear lots of thoughts on this - from non-parents and parents alike. (And I get lots of great kid-related advice from people who are not parents!)