This I Believe

Marie - Cranston, Rhode Island
Entered on April 19, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: community
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My six-year-old and I often get our haircut together at the local fast cut place. Our ritual is to get the cut and then venture into the nearby dollar store. Despite the fact that most of the items break shortly after purchase, my son is still committed to buying toys from this store every time we go.

Today’s trip occurs a few days after the Virginia Tech shootings. I found myself in the aisle trying to explain yet again why I would not let him purchase a toy gun—we’ve had this discussion before—my partner and I don’t like guns and therefore don’t want them in our house—today however he is insistent about his need to buy a gun. His arguments are as sound as a six-year-old can make them out to be. “My other gun (some plastic gift given to him) is broken”. “This one makes a cool sound, and my other one doesn’t”. His constant pressuring is ridiculous, so I suggest that if he can’t find an acceptable toy we would have to leave the store.

His last plea, he whines, “you won’t let me because you think I am a baby”. In fact, I know he’s not a baby, but his want of such a destructive item even if it’s a toy is especially disconcerting during the aftermath of such horror inflicted upon others by the use of one. At this point, I say to him, “I know you’re not a baby. Your mom and I don’t have guns and we’re not babies either. I don’t want you to have a gun because guns hurt people”.

This statement seems all seems all too real and raw, but I believe that guns really do hurt people. Oh, I know the arguments for them, some in fact seem appropriate and reasonable. But let’s face it, guns do hurt people.

I want so desperately to explain the recent events to my son despite knowing I can’t because it’s unexplainable. I want him to know what I know just for a moment so that he won’t ask for a gun again. But I don’t, and wonder when I will know that he is “old enough” to hear more about these atrocities and know the depth of destruction that guns cause . . . the point when I can truly let him in on the scary unpredictability of life’s events, and not treat him like a baby . . . I am not sure when, but I am more sure that I don’t want to . . .

So we settle on a pad of construction paper and a bag of plastic soldiers—the soldiers, somehow, seem better than an actual gun. I cling to the hope that soldiers are helpful—they serve and protect—it’s a slim argument, I know, but one I feel slightly better about.