So, my wee heathens have hit the age that they are fascinated by weapons. My eldest has been learning about the Revolutionary War and the Civil War in school. My youngest has decided that Transformers are the greatest thing since sliced bread. And they have been toodling around the yard pretending that sticks are guns, cannons, and lasers ala Star Wars. And let us not forget the swords and lightsabers.
In typical kid logic, the boys have decided that one side is good and the other is evil. And that the good always wins. As well as the evil is ALWAYS wrong and bad. They have been talking about how they are going to fight in a war for our ‘independence’ and make all the bad guys stop by killing them. (My eldest somehow came up with the idea that striking bad guys aka criminals aka the enemy aka the British with a shovel would kill them, but only for a little while so he has to do it more than once to make sure they are really dead.) Now, where it would be easy to let them have this image in their heads about how the world works, neither Beloved or myself can do so. Because war is not a game. Weapons are not toys. And death is something permanent and you can’t bring someone back from the dead.
As such, we have been very aggressive about explaining how they should and should not use their toy weapons. We also explained why. Given that we live across the street from the local gun club, the boys have an idea that guns are not very safe (but REALLY COOL). We have gone over things like what to do if they happen to find one (which is pretty unlikely because neither of us own a fire arm) and how to safely handle them. We’ve gone over the safe way to handle blades as well, because even a kitchen knife could be a weapon. Some of our concerns about gun and weapon safety are based in the fact that too many children have died as a result of confusion on that basis. (I mourned Tamir Rice and all of the other children who were killed for playing with realistic toys. I still have my heart break over the thought and the injustice of it all.) Some of our concerns are based in the question of when is it right to use violence (or by logical extension a weapon)?
We have insisted that violence should be the last resort. And that it should not be initiated lightly. The lessons that my father and grandfather taught me when I was a kid have been repeated several times here. “He who makes the first fist loses.” and “Never start a fight but always finish one.” They have a bit more explanation with it. We make a point of being sure that the boys understand they can defend themselves or someone who needs it, but they can not be the one starting a fight.
Because violence as a tool to coerce someone or force others to do as you want is something we can’t approve in a blanket sense with any good conscience.
Originally Published: 6/4/17