“They’ll turn anything into a gun, eventually.”
I’ve heard it from everyone, from my best hippie friends to the “experts” on TV segments. I didn’t give it much thought because the “they” they referred to wouldn’t be my daughter. No. It was reserved for boys who are rougher and tougher, those whose favorite color isn’t pink and sparkles, and those who don’t wear every tutu they own at once.
Then my daughter came out of her bedroom, wearing her ninja turtles T shirt and a tutu, and carrying a bottle of nail polish connected to a puzzle piece.
“I’ll shoot you with my gun!”
Flabbergasted the best I could come up with was, “That’s a very interesting gun!”
“Let’s play the gun game, Dad!” as she pulls him into her room and closes the door. The game has changed 100 times since from what I can tell from the shrieks I can hear over the dishwasher. They’ve been doctors getting tickles out, astronauts, even towers to knock down, yet here I sit writing because of one word. Gun.
We’re not an anti-gun family. For two pretty liberal independents, we possess a pretty varied gun collection. My husband is ex-military, my family all country folk; guns are a pretty normal part of our life. I know that she has always been around them, just as I was, and they are normal to her but still I wonder and I worry.
How do I teach her that guns aren’t toys while letting her invoke her own fantasies? How do I explain that guns hurt people, that guns kill things, that guns are powerful and can be dangerous? Is it wrong to feel a sense of pride in my little “princess” who isn’t waiting around for a prince to save her? Who made her own gun to get the bad guys? Because, honestly, I have those feelings, too…
I haven’t quite figured out how to deal with it, I don’t even know how I feel about it to be honest.
I do know that my girl’s imagination and ingenuity are beautiful and that my reactions can color how she feels about those things. So for now I am just going to smile, acknowledge her ideas and encourage her creativity. There will be plenty of room for the serious stuff in the future. After all, it is just a foam puzzle piece and nail polish bottle.