Preemptive Sandbox Invasion.

(Since the progress-o-sphere is about to go primary-day-crazy, here’s something to possibly counter all the primary talk from the state of Maine! Ohio? Mississi– Um, which state is it again?)

So, I wouldn’t call myself a “pacifist”  in the classic sense, but I come from city-liberals who saw weapons as, at best, a necessary evil. They never owned a gun… I’ve never owned a gun… and I honestly never remember WANTING a gun, even as a kid.

I was more “sports-and-fantasy-games-dork” then “don-a-collender-on-my-head-and-use-a-cucumber-sidearm-to-reenact-the-invasion-of-Normandy-dude-muffin.

So, imagine my  surprise, chagrin and confusion when I realize my three year-old son is… well… TOTALLY a “don-a-collender-on-his-head-and-use-a-cucumber-sidearm-to-reenact-the-invasion-of-Normandy-dude-muffin”.

EVERYTHING he picks up somehow turns into a weapon.

A spoon… a piece of bread… a crayon… a pillow (and not even a gun-shaped-pillow, but a totally square pillow, held at it’s corner and activated with mouth “pow-pow”.)

One time I looked over to find him standing in front of a mirror, posing; his six-shooter of choice… a tampon, still in the wrapper.

“This do some shooting?” he asked.

“No,” I replied, “That don’t do no shooting.”

(Oh, and, YES when Truman came down the stairs with the… you-know-what-tu… he was absolutely using THAT as a sword at the time.)

On the rare occasion he’s not “don-a-collender-on-his-head-and-use-a-cucumber-sidearm-to-reenact-the-invasion-of-Normandy-dude-muffin”, he’s instead “tape-a-kitchen-towel-on-his-back-and-use-a-whisk-to-portray-the-death-of-Obi-Won-Kenobi-son”.

Oh, and by the way… he’s playing Darth Vader.

Every time Darth Vader comes on screen he screams… “THERE I AM! THAT’A ME!”

And not just Vader, either. The Emperor. Apparently, my Son ?’s oatmeal face.

Anyway. Off track here. Back to guns.

Wife is out of town this weekend and so I decide to take the kids for dim sum in downtown LA and then to wander the block of stands filled with all the crap that essentially makes up our national trade deficit with China.

My daughter, Josephine, picks out a hideously strange, seven-dollar, year-of-the-rat piggy bank and Truman chooses… a three dollar plastic, rat-a-tat-tat, army-guy machine-gun.

Now, I considered trying to talk him out of the faux firearms, but I’m convinced that one gets the kid they get and the kid I’ve got has something he needs to work out here.

He’s got NO love for actual violence… is not a hitter or a biter or even a pusher… and the gun thing appears to be a natural outcropping of his role playing.

Also, if we don’t get the gun, he’ll ask for a sword, and if I don’t buy a sword, he’ll buy a stuffed alligator and eventually use it as a gun and a sword.

Plus, why stigmatize it and turn it into something forbidden and therefore fascinating?

Aaaaand… its not the gun but the mentality of violence.

Or, that’s how I’m badly, desperately, hopelessly trying to justify it.

Clearly I’m CONFLICTED, right? Clearly I’m trying to find the balance between responsible progressive father and confused, non-hunting, mocha-drinking, liberal elitist.

Anyway, after China Town we head to the park to meet friends.

Jo runs off to involve “Ratty” in some role-playing game of emotional substance, while Truman and his best-buddy… preemptively invade an empty sandbox.

As I watch the two boys shooting and running and laughing I turn to see another mother eyeing them and out of my guilty mouth pops:

“They– Its– a peace keeping mission. NATO! They’re… you know… country in turmoil… protecting against genocide… you know, like… think… what we should’ve done in Darfur.”

But just as I’m getting my story straight, Truman rushes underfoot screaming gleefully, “All dead, Daddy! I got them all! All dead! Pow-pow-arggargaspha!”

I hang my head and flash my best sheepish grin: “More Blackwater then NATO, huh?”

OK, still working out the kinks here…


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  1. maybe after a couple of hits the pain of war might become evident.

  2. nothing wrong with their imaginations turning sticks into swords…

    given where we are now, it seems foolhardy to dissuade our sons and/or daughters from a relationship with weapons… because weapons are not the problem, imo. the mindset often is…

    here’s to you, because you’re funny. and here’s to rearing kind, empathetic, compassionate, and STRONG people. love is part of the equation. survival is the other.

  3. i never allowed guns…even water guns (we bought animal-shaped squirters)…but i had girls, and the issue never came up.  

    as a pre-school teacher, i marvelled at the boys and the games they played.  it was an eye-opener.  some of the kids ive taught are into their teens, and the ones i still see are all pretty ok.  they seem to have worked it out…mostly…  

    now if only we could get the dept. of defense to adopt the pillow-gun technique….hmmmm….

    • RiaD on April 23, 2008 at 16:10

    & poor you! i was also so very conflicted….

    i finally gave in, we bought water pistols, dart guns, guns w/little flags that popped out that said BANG!…. & i was upset with all of it. mrD said boys will be boys….

    finally at about age 8 he wanted a ‘red-ryder BBgun’….

    O my! what to do??

    after days& days of back & forth mrD came home with one (that took bb’s AND pellets!!) for me to wrap….from Santa

    on christmas morning i told him…’this is a REAL gun…it can HURT….the only living things you are allowed to shoot are bad dogs and bears (neither of which we have)

    we set up targets for him & he shot pine cones out of trees… then he shot a squirrel~ right thru the eye! & was dumbfounded that it didn’t get up…. he was in tears.

    to impress the lesson that you shoot animals only if you are hungry…

    i made him skin out that squirrel, i cooked it & served it for supper….

    the bbgun went in the closet & never came back out.

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