*This is going to be a tough one, and I'm sorry if it gets a rise out of you, because that is NOT what this is supposed to be about...but it's a subject that is wreaking havoc in my life right now.*
Let me start by saying a few things:
Do I like guns? Nope. Not at all.
Do I understand guns? Nope. Not at all.
Do I know that guns are a part of our lives? Yup, in more ways than one.
I HATE, with a passion, that there is so much violence in this world. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I cry when I watch the news sometimes. I couldn't watch the news for daaaayyys after the school shooting in Connecticut (my heart goes out to you!). I watch the news and look at my babies and die inside, because I can't even begin to imagine this for my children.
Any shooting, seriously, any shooting, sends me into nightmares.
When I first got together with S, he was a Marine (who am I kidding, once a Marine, always a Marine) but didn't know his passion for guns.....this led to a lot of fights once he came home from his second deployment. Dude was a few months old, and I didn't want guns in the house. End of story. No more discussion.
Well, S had some guns to begin with actually, but I said "no more".
That worked for a while.
When Dude was about 18 months or so, I gave in and let S buy Dude a BB gun. S had been taking Dude out when he (S) shot his guns, Dude had been around guns all his life...Dude knew not to touch any gun unless S or I was around. The guns were in our bedroom at the time. They were locked. The bullets were in a different place...we had taken all of the precautions necessary. Dude loved (loves still) that he got to spend that time with S, and yes, S let Dude hold some guns and fire them with S.
I balked, I protested, I hated it.
But when it came down to it, I knew deep down, that for Dude to respect guns, he had to know how to use them. He had to know what a gun could do. That guns were serious. That he had to know how to hold guns when walking, that when he got in the house the gun had to go up into a designated area (with Ss guns).
That being said, Dude also used anything in his hand as a "gun". Water guns, play guns, his plastic forks, toy cars....anything you could think of, was a "gun".
This was "cute" "funny" "what boys do" until a short time ago when we signed Dude up for Headstart/preschool....and we started paying more attention to what was going on in schools since the shooting in Connecticut. S and I have had many serious discussions about how Dude needs to stop "shooting". We have always, since he started pretending to shoot, told him to not "shoot" the cat, the dog, people, etc etc.
Does he still pretend to? Yes, because he's a kid.
Do we continuously tell him to stop? Yes.
Is it a work in progress since Dude is a particularly strong-willed 3 year old? Yes.
Does Dude know all about guns and all of the reprecussions of using a gun? Yes.
He's gone hunting with S on numerous occasions and has seen S shoot animals, and then yes, he has eaten that animal. We have instilled in Dude that you only shoot animals if you are then going to eat them. That's how hunting works. That guns are for hunting animals that you are then going to eat...that hunting is for providing for your family. That you don't shoot an animal unless you are then going to use it in some manor or you are trying to protect your family.
But Dude also likes to play and pretend that he is "HALO" and shoot "monsters" in our house.
Do we have a shotgun leaning against the wall next to our front door? Yes.
We live in the "backwoods" "the sticks" whatever you want to call it, and S is gone all day. Of course we have a gun next to the front door when it's rampant in this area for people to break into houses to steal money and pills.
When we (the family) went to Kentuckey the summer of 2011, we came home to an apartment that someone had tried to break into. That weekend, at MY request, we sent Dude to his grandparents for the day and S showed me how to shoot all of the guns that we had, where all of the bullets were, etc. Just picture me, prego, shooting a shotgun....yup it was funny. Up until that point I had shot some guns...maybe 3 times tops in my life. But now was obviously the time to learn. I had a child to protect, and myself.
Have Dude or even Princess ever touched this gun by the front door? Nope. Honestly. Because Dude knows, and Princess is learning. They know to never touch it. Even if they did, like I said, it's not loaded and it's locked.
Now, my problem with the school system?
For one, there is this which literally drives me crazy. Suspend a kid because they accidentally bit a pop tart into the shape of gun? Really?
I am afraid that my son will be expelled from school, in Kindergarten(!) because of his love of all things that include his daddy, which means: boats, fishing, and yes...guns.
Why is it ok in some school systems for teachers to learn how to shoot guns and carry them in the classroom, but then our local schools are suspending kids for pretending to shoot with chicken wings (yes, this is something that happened this past school year in our local school system)?
We live in an area where guns are prevalent in the household. I honestly don't know of anyone that doesn't hunt, that doesn't have some sort of home protection system.
Why are schools punishing kids for acting like kids? Princess is now holding water guns and saying "bang" because that's what she sees her brother doing all of the time.
I've been told by our home-headstart visitor, that when Dude goes to Headstart that the teachers will work with him on this issue...of him pretending to shoot all the time. And we continue to work on this issue all of the time at home too.
It sucks that it has become such a huge issue, that we now have to make our son, not act like a little boy...that he can't play "cowboys and indians" and "cops and robbers"on the playground.
Where have the days gone when we taught our kids to respect guns, and how to use them correctly? That guns will harm other people? Why are we teaching our kids to hate guns? Why are parents afraid to show their kids that guns aren't bad unless they are in the hands of someone that is bad?
In my opinion, it's sick, hateful people who are misusing guns. Why should little kids, who are playing, be punished?