Okay, people, help me out with this one. Two things to know about me:
1. I don’t like guns.
2. I have boys.
Vincenzo started shooting things around age three, despite him never having seen or heard of a gun anywhere I know of, and there were very few minutes during his first three years I didn’t know where he was or what he was doing. I’m pretty sure guns were invented by the first three-year-old boy ever to set foot on planet Earth.
For awhile there we were able to pretend he was shooting us with whipped cream or confetti or bubbles. We didn’t want to make shooting completely taboo because we know how shiny and tempting things that are taboo can be. So he’d shoot us and we’d thank him for the whipped cream and ask if he could shoot us with chocolate syrup and maybe a maraschino cherry next.
Then one day Vincenzo shot me and as I pretended to ski down the whipped cream mountain he had just shot out, he looked me straight on and said, “No, Mom. That wasn’t whipped cream. It was a bullet.”
We still tried, and we still felt kind of okay because at least we didn’t use the word “gun” in our house. “Shooters” are much more cute and cuddly, don’t you agree? Vincenzo would go so far as to correct me if, for example, I pointed out some workers using a staple gun. “No, Mom, we call them ‘staple shooters.’”
But eventually the lipstick wore off that chicken, too, and now they are simply guns and they shoot bullets and apparently all of Vincenzo’s friends have them. Nerf guns, squirt guns, GIJoe guns, laser guns, cowboy guns, teeny tiny Playmobile guns.
And Vincenzo has started asking.
So far my best strategy is to pretend that he asked for “gum” instead and offer him a piece of Trident.
I’m just not ready yet, and I might not ever be. But it feels kind of hypocritical to provide Vincenzo with light sabers, swords, boxing gloves, maces and battle axes, but not allow guns—especially when the drills from his tool set stand in for guns as needed, and when those aren’t around there’s always his finger-and-thumb gun.
For his part, Vincenzo is not nearly as into shooting things as a lot of his friends are. I know he would follow any rules we set and he wouldn’t get carried away with it. He likes a good fight, but he’s not your typical shoot’-‘em-up-bang-bang little boy. The last epic battle he had with Kevin involved drawing pictures of bananas and coconuts (two things Kevin hates) and taping them all over the house. If we did buy Vincenzo a toy gun we would use the opportunity to talk about gun safety in general (as if we can’t talk about gun safety otherwise) and we would have clear house rules about how to use them.
But still! Guns! I don’t like them. They kill.
So let’s say I hold off until Vincenzo’s a little older and can understand about how guns have this dark side and might not be all grins and giggles. Let’s say Vincenzo is eight years old or so. He still really wants a gun and by now seriously all of his friends have them, even the Quaker ones, and so let’s say we get him one. And he is happy.
And then we realize that his younger brother, Rocco, will be playing with toy guns at age four.
Which makes it feel pointless to hold off at all, and like we could have saved ourselves a bunch of whining and grief if we had gotten Vincenzo a toy gun earlier.
So tell me. What would you do? Guns now, later, or never?
WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE: