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Jumping to conclusions

April 29, 2010

The other day, as I sat waiting while he shuffled through his book basket for something to read, Jack said “A gun.”

I was startled; surely I’d heard wrong.

And when Jack thinks I haven’t heard him, he gives me a second and much louder opportunity to hear.

“A GUN!”

I almost fell over.

Now, I say this as a gal who grew up wimpy, peace-loving and vaguely Quaker, but at home with guns (they were for hunting – for meat, not decor – and, more occasionally, some target practice/gun safety).

But I also say this as a mother who, as a guest at a third birthday party recently, watched a toddler unwrap toy rifles and pistols and plastic machine gun after plastic machine gun. I watched with great pride and relief as Jack used one as a hammer, and then a drill – his best approximations of their intended purposes. And then I had to intervene when a well-meaning adult started to show him how to “really use them.”

When I was little, we had cap guns. We liked them. And since I remember it so well, I’m betting we were a little older than three. When my husband and his brother were little, their parents hesitated even to let them play with water pistols. Now, my memories of SuperSoakers are all fun –  our water wars were less violent than snow ball fights. But I see their point.

And it was unmistakable. My two-year-old son said “A GUN!”

And then he leaned over, picked it up and brought it to me, with his finger on the trigger: my pink glue gun, which he uses to play the ever popular Let’s Pretend to Caulk.

I felt sheepish. But he got me again later, when I found him throwing his arms forward and saying “I shoot! I shoot!”

Soon, his dad showed up with the basketball. You know, the thing they like to use to shoot baskets?

One day, too soon, he’ll mean something else by words like “gun” and “shoot.” But right now, he’s still two. He says “hit” for what a hammer does and “bang” for the sound it makes. So I’ll enjoy, at least for a little while, more time to give him the benefit of the doubt.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2010 4:10 am

    Let’s Pretend to Caulk … I love that game! =>

    My daughter’s preschool teacher was talking to me about guns the other day (I guess because, like your Jack, my son is nearing the “gun fascination” stage?). She said at this age, boys become obsessed with the need to protect their families, friends, stuffed animals, trains, etc. And, in their minds, weapons become the most effective means for doing so. It didn’t make me relish the idea of my son pretending to shoot things, but at least it provided a little context. (And toy machine guns (plural!) as gifts for a three-year-old? Eek.)

    PS: Here’s an interesting take on toy guns:

  2. April 29, 2010 11:31 am

    My son is a bit older than yours, but I obviously have the same aversion for guns. Last summer he discovered water guns and I caved…but with conditions. However, he’s now started to use the word kill around our house. He obviously doesn’t understand and I think he gets it from an older boy he knows who adores superheroes. I realize that I can’t shelter him from that stuff forever, and that as boys they are drawn to it, but I’m trying really hard. So the word kill is no longer allowed in our house, we tell him we don’t like it, and as an alternative, have asked him to start saying “I’ve drained your batteries.” For now it works…but I need to come up with a more long term strategy I think.

  3. April 29, 2010 1:38 pm

    I’m not into guns either. We have none. And I don’t tend to get Hayden a gun – ever.

  4. April 29, 2010 5:26 pm

    We are not a gun family – so I completely understand your apprehension. I have the same anxiety at the thought of my little girl learning about drugs, sex, etc. later on in life and can’t even imagine how I would handle those. Thankfully, like you, I have a few years to come up with a strategy and brace myself with the fortitude needed to eventually face those moments.

  5. April 30, 2010 12:13 am

    I’m not a fan of guns… but know it’s inevitable that little boys will make things into guns (anything, according to my mom, who is the biggest pacifist, and still had a son who loved to make toy guns out of sticks… yikes!)

    But until the day comes when it actually comes up, I’m trying to keep my mind in a happy “my son will never want to play with guns!” place 🙂


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