Thursday, January 05, 2006

Things that make you go...Oh My God!

Today while I was playing a game of "match the numbers to the dots" in Isaac's classroom, two of his classmates were talking about what they want to be when they grow up. One boy proudly told me, "I wanna be in the Army like my Dad so I can kill people!"

I said, "Being in the Army is a great goal, but you don't really want to kill people, do you?"

"Of course I do!" Then he made machine gun noises and pretended to shoot his classmates.

His buddy said, "I already have three guns! I practice shooting at the targets with my dad!" (May I remind you that these are 5-year-old kindergarteners.)

I realize that I have chosen to move back to Marquette County, the self-proclaimed Hunters' Paradise, where deer cause an average of one vehicle accident per day and must be exterminated. While I have not quite made up my mind exactly how hunting fits in with the entire gun control scenario, I am definitely sure that when a five-year-old is talking about killing people, and another has already had the opportunity to shoot a gun, there is something amiss. I had a heated discussion with one of my requisite Republican friends over lunch today about guns and the military and "how we used guns to get rid of Hitler". Maybe guns have their place! But that place is not in the hands of a five-year-old.

I had been freaking out about Isaac's fondness for the toy squirt gun (which is not actually a "gun" because it's shaped like a dolphin, which is why it didn't go in the garbage immediately) that came with his Subway sandwich. He carries that thing around in his pocket, whips it out and uses both hands to aim expertly at the monsters and makes gun-blast noises as he jerks his hands as if he's firing bullets. The problem with forbidding gun-toys is that when anything remotely resembling a gun turns up, it is absolutely irresistible. Suddenly, Legos are expertly fashioned into an "L" shape and held like a pistol. And toy guns are everywhere - he got a "foam disc shooter" in the Christmas exchange at school! What kind of mean mom would take that away from their overjoyed kid?

Now that I see the extent to which guns and killing with guns are discussed in his classroom, I'm rather proud that I've been able to explain to him that guns are dangerous, they were designed as a tool to kill living things - both animals and people - and they are not to be played with. He understands this, and when he plays, he knows he can only shoot the imaginary monsters. He's not even allowed to pretend that he's shooting people. We've talked about the fact that even "bad guys" have mommies and daddies who would be sad if they died, and that's why we have jails to lock them up instead of killing them.

But Jeez, it makes me want to move to a desert island and poke my head in the sand.


tanveer said...

I never understood this US fondness towards guns. I dont know whether u should be worried about Isaac playing with guns. I used to love playing with guns when I was a kid and I grew up to be a non gunlover.
Have you read Guns, Germs and Steel?

Zeenat said...

You explain things so nicely to Isaac! I have to call you for pointers when Raffae starts asking about these things! Someone gave him a gun belt with two toy pistols. Just to see it on him made me and Tanveer nervous. I threw it in the trash right after he went to sleep that night. He never missed it!

Katie said...

Thanks Z.
I had to explain it to him when we saw the RAB dudes in their handsome black outfits with their big guns...and then he saw the pictures of the dead bodies in the newspapers...His uncle told him that those were bad guys, and it was good that they were dead. So I had to explain to Isaac that we have a better system for keeping bad guys from hurting others, and it doesn't involve killing.