Don’t Take Your Guns to School, Boys. Leave Your Guns at Home.

17 04 2008

Unfortunately, Neener and Roo are learning things at school. That’s right, unfortunately. I was actually hoping that they would not learn much there at all. Let me explain: Neener and Roo are almost five, and can already read. And I don’t mean read as in ‘cat, bat,hat.’ I don’t even mean ‘See Spot. See Spot run. See Spot run very fast.’ It’s more like ‘ Observe Spot. Take note of Spot physically exerting himself. It is grossly apparent that Spot is approaching the point of exhaustion.’ And they would be able to pronounce and understand that. When I am writing these posts, I have to be keenly aware of little eyeballs peering over my shoulder. We have to hide the newspapers when there are grisly headlines. I have to constantly divert their attention when we are on public transit if we’ve accidently plunked ourselves directly across from one of those lovely Men’s clinic ads with the words ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION written nice ‘n big ‘n bold. They can read, they can understand, and what they don’t understand, they have no qualms about questioning. Loudly. And they can print. And draw. And colour. And add and subtract, and I am pretending that they do not know how to do simple multiplication because frankly, it freaks me out. I can barely do simple multiplication. Sometimes I just curl up in the cozy arms of denial, and ignore the fact that my children are alarmingly smart on some levels. Thank god that they’re socially dumb as rocks. 

So when they started school, I told the teacher it was ok to not really teach them anything. I figure Neener and Roo could use a brain break for a few years, to let their peers catch up, and to let some of their overachieving neural networks wither and die. I told the teacher I would be happy if she could give them just enough academic stimulation to keep them from driving her crazy, and if they could spend more time connecting with and learning from their peers. Ohh, but be careful what you wish for…

It seems that Neener and Roo’s class is chock full of junior NRA enthusiasts. There are only a handful of girls in the class, and they are all Disney Princesses-in-training (see here for my feelings on that) so, the boys dominate the kindergarten social landscape. And that social landscape looks like a scene from Charlton Heston’s wildest, giddiest, most gun-toting dream. Little boys racing around, turning anything they can get their hands on into guns. Blocks. Play-doh. Disney Princess paraphernalia. (Cinderella’s Slipper! Now with more killing power!) For Neener and Roo, this is a whole new world. Before they started school, they didn’t know anything about boys. Or about weapons. But now, they are not only aware of guns and swords and what they are for, they’ve realized that boys think they are cool. And if they want to play with the boys, they’d better bone up on their weapon talk. Here’s a sample of a conversation I had with Neener the other day while she was drawing a picture:

Me: What’s that a picture of?

Neener: A rattlesnake attacking a hummingbird.

Me: Oh. And what’s that?

Neener: A gun coming out of the sky to shoot the rattlesnake in the head so it will be too dead to attack the hummingbird anymore.

And then there was this chat with Roo, while she was drawing:

Me: Whatcha drawing?

Roo: Me. With a sword. And a gun. And another gun. And another sword. And a princess dress.

 

Thank you, school kids. Now, I know most of these boys. They live in the neighbourhood. They are nice. Their parents are nice. I don’t think they are destined to be school shooters or gangsta thugs. They are just going through a gun phase. Or they are clearly reflecting the nonchalant attitude toward weapons that is so pervasive in the pop-culture entertainment offerings for young boys. Or they are all just getting a jump on constructing their phallic-symbol-centered masculine identities. But do they have to teach my daughters about it? Can’t they form some secret gun club for boys, and act out their little wars in somebody’s backyard, out of earshot of my already anxious, sensitive, too-smart-for-their-own-good daughters?  I guess not.

So I have to play the glad game. At least Neener and Roo are learning something. At least they are socializing. At least they are choosing to explore this world of boys and guns and violence instead of ignoring it, or worse, being terrified and intimidated by it. And you never know, this knowledge may come in handy some day. Afterall, my husband is facing his future as the father of three tall, beautiful, too-smart-for-their-own-good, socially-dumb-as-rocks daughters. He’s probably going to want a gun someday, to scare the living shit out of the throngs of boys who will inevitably come knocking on our door. Maybe Neener and Roo will learn enough in school to help Daddy decide which gun he should buy.

 

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