52 Weeks of Brotherhood, Week 20
When asked the question, I would answer, “No, my kids will not play with guns.”
Guns scared me. So of course I ended up marrying a soldier, a hunter, a member of a special team. Something about God having a sense of humor or Alanis’ version of irony or what have you. My husband happens to be one of the most responsible gun owners I’ve ever met. I never fear the kids can break into the gun case. I can’t even make the combination work.
But still, I balked when an uncle bought the boys a Nerf gun as a birthday present. Guns are not toys. We do not play with guns.
But then every stick turned into a gun. Every fork. Every straw. Every piece of grass. We don’t let our boys watch anything overtly violent, but they saw Buzz Lightyear lasering everyone, and they lasered everyone. And then we wanted to have a water gun fight, because what else are you supposed to do during the hottest days of summer… and I started to drop the ban on guns. The discussion changed, the words we used changed, and Nerf guns entered our house. Along with pirate swords, because pirate swords are awesome. And lightsabers. And laser guns. And a giant battle axe, because my brother has a lot to learn about toys and kids and, oh, he’ll get his when their first baby arrives this summer. And even when those toys aren’t around, like when we’re traveling or at the beach, the shovel turns into a gun or a cannon or anything that can destroy a brother’s castle or the remnants of someone else’s castle from the night before.
I keep the conversation going. I keep talking about good choices and safety and respecting others’ personal space, about respecting other people in general. I remind them about the difference between imagination play and real life. And then I pick up a Nerf gun, dart through the yard, hide behind the tree and shoot for dear life.
Because they’re only this young once. They’re only going to play these games of imagination, of fighting the bad guys as a good guy team, for so long. Someday their battles won’t be so easily solved, won’t be made better by a lightsaber duel in the backyard on a school night. I keep the conversation going, because I feel it’s necessary for future reference, but I also give thanks for the simple joys of roughhousing and active play with brothers and a dad and a mom. (And a dog.)