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?"
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.