I get that I’m an author and should probably stick to author stuff but like the title of the blog reads, this is the world according to me. I can do whatever I want.
This is a gun-ish post but I have a couple of caveats. First, this isn’t a gun control post. There are plenty of idealists out there on both sides of the issue spouting their views (most of which seem fairly ignorant). I am not one of those. I simply had an interesting parenting experience that I thought might make a good post.
If you read my bio you know my background in law enforcement. I carried a gun every day for fifteen years before I hung it up to move into a non-operational role. I’m not a gun nut but I appreciate the tool and respect the necessity of weapons in personal defense. I still carry one most of the time when I’m out and about.
I have also seen what guns can do either intentionally or when misused. When I became a parent, the ‘gun’ issue, became a thing.
So, when my three-year-old, Tripp, came home from daycare one day, folded his chubby little hand up like a gun and said, “boom, boom, I shoot you,” I was taken aback.
I asked, “What are you doing?”
“I shot you,”
“With my gun I shot you,”
“What do you know about guns?”
“You shoot people with guns,”
“Who told you about guns?”
He took on a sheepish pout, “Ben,”
Ben is three years old also.
The kid’s three, my plan was to put off the gun stuff until he was six and I could take him to grandpa’s house and teach him how to shoot. He didn’t watch movies or tv where guns were a thing, the most violent media he had access to was the Wild Kratts. How do you explain something like gun safety to a three-year-old?
Maybe I lost my mind. I probably over reacted but I wasn’t going to have my little guy’s first impression of firearms framed by another three-year-old booger eater. I would control this narrative.
The next day Tripp got home from daycare to find his bedroom had been converted into a shooting range. I had five of his stuffed animals lined up on his dresser. His bed was the firing line. When I showed him two little single shot Nerf guns he was psyched. When I told him there were rules we had to learn he was not. We spent the next hour going over the same rules that govern every law enforcement range I have ever trained on:
- Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
- Never aim a gun at something you don’t intend to shoot.
- Finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
It took us a little while to get the rules and we both had violations if I’m being honest. But once we had the rules of the range down, shooting our little Nerf guns became a daily thing until the next Car’s movie came out and we were back to racing around on the floor. That was two years ago, we still shoot a couple of times a month, and now the guns are cooler.
Even though he plays by the ‘range rules’ at home I wondered how much of that held when submerged amongst the brain trust of his classmates. In my mind I imagined discipline a myth and that he and his friends at school were running around the playground like it was the street scene in Heat.
Then this weekend we were wandering down the street when a kid, maybe eight-years-old came out of a store sporting one of those toy pirate flintlocks. He stops in front of me, Tripp, and some random woman and pops all of us. It was just a noise maker and I’m pretty sure his aim was off but the act left my now five-year-old absolutely incensed.
“Whoa, No! That’s not how you do it!” he yelled at the older kid. Tripp’s outburst was enough to freeze the kid in his tracks. The older boy cocked his head to the side and looked like a dog trying to figure out how to handle a turtle wandering through the yard. Tripp squared off with him and put his hand out like a gun pointed to the sky, put it right at eye level and flexed his little ‘trigger’ finger, “Finger off the trigger unless you ready to shoot,” he barked.
He looked at me, “Did you see him, he had his finger…” his voice drifted off as the pirate disappeared in the crowd.
“I know bud,”
“He dinit control his weapon!”
“No, he didn’t,” I agreed while fighting the urge to do an end zone dance right there on the street.
“He needs the rules!”
“Yes, he does,” I agreed,
When I gave him a high five he looked at me suspiciously. I let him wonder as we continued our walk down the street.
I don’t know what it is about little boys and guns. I was hoping to keep that aspect of life away from him for as long possible, thanks daycare. My only guess is that guns are part of our human nature. We are a society based on violence, guns have been glorified since the creation of the blunderbuss, before that the sword got all the attention. Humans are predators by design, maybe guns and violence feed some primal part of us.
Not trying to enter the gun debate, and the last person anyone should take parenting advice from is me so this is not a parent strategy session. I just had a fun dad moment I figured might make a good post.