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message was clear. It was bold and underlined and in no uncertain terms: Toy
weapons of any kind would not be permitted at the elementary school's annual
Halloween parade. This means the non-battery operated light saber for my son's
Darth Vader costume would have to stay at home Friday. I explained this to him,
as did his teachers, and he was fine about it. Now, if only there was a way to
keep that "no toy weapons" message running through the other days of the year.
thing is, I'm firmly anti-gun. I don't believe the average citizen should have
them in their homes. I grew up in Canada where gun control laws are strict and
meaningful, and there's no debate or contention around any of it. However, living
in the U.S. and raising a family here, I pay very close attention to this
country's gun sense or, moreover, the lack thereof. I don't want my child
around guns. Period. This firearm ban includes the toy versions too.
the last five years, I've been able to maintain this no-guns policy without issue.
Even my son can tell you my stance regarding these killing machines. "Mom, that
LEGO guy has something in his hand that you really don't like," he'll say, when
we're flipping through a catalog or zipping by (because moseying is a
mistake, friends!) the toy aisle at Target.
over the last five months, things have begun to tilt a little. It started with
a blue water pistol given to him in the loot bag from a summer birthday party.
He was more into the other cheap trinkets than the gun, so I was able to slip the plastic thing into a cabinet in the mudroom. Then one day, as
if to taunt me, that damn squirt gun fell out of the cabinet and landed by his
feet. He asked if he could fill it up and play with it in the yard. I said yes,
but only for a short while. I told him he wasn't allowed to point it directly at
anyone. He still had fun spraying the water at flowers, the grass and into
He's a kid -- there's always fun to be discovered.
few weeks later, he went to a buddy's house for a playdate. Of course they
ended up playing with the boy's toy laser guns. "But just for a little bit of
I figured this moment would come, the one where I need to recognize and reconcile the fact that my reach as a parent and guide has a limit.
then Kindergarten happened. Everyday this kid would come home talking about
some new character or superhero or ninja that a schoolmate was talking about at
recess, nearly all of them in fighting mode, all carrying a weapon of some sort. My son has never once watched a show or seen a
movie featuring any of these characters. (Even his latest interest in Star Wars
sprang forth from LEGO.) But there he was explaining all the details of the
Ninja Turtles and Batman.
figured this moment would come, the one where I need to recognize and reconcile
the fact that my reach as a parent and guide has a limit. I can't (and don't want to) hover over my son at every playdate, trying to dissuade him from picking up a toy gun. I can only hope that my
thought-through opinions about the real dangers of guns and gunplay will take
root with his young mind and instill a sensibility that he can continue to
develop as he grows.