My son is five years old and, until recently, had no idea that guns existed.
Of course I knew that it would happen but when he came home from preschool with a cardboard box creation, my heart sank when he proudly told me he had made a gun.
Right there I saw part of my innocent boy dissolve right before my eyes.
He was told about guns by another boy at preschool apparently. It’s not his fault, he has older brothers and boys by nature are “into that stuff”, I’m told. As his mother, I wanted to keep the idea of guns away from my children and out of my house, but when this particular boy instigated a game involving guns and bad guys, my son was drawn in.
Sadly, you can't keep their innocence forever. Image: istock
They then spent the morning at the craft table creating weapons to fight each other with, my son guided by the knowledge of the other boy on what exactly the perfect gun should have.
Last week it was Octonauts explorer packs he was making and now, guns.
For some people it's not an issue, boys will be boys and all that, and for the majority of the time, I'm all about that. They can rough play, climb trees, wrestle and tumble. But when it comes to guns, I just can't. The sole purpose of a gun is to hurt; to wound and to kill. I want no part in that and I certainly don't want it being a cornerstone of my son's childhood play.
He thinks it's cool. He has no idea of the realities of the world and nor should he. For the time being, guns are used to "kill baddies" which consists of him and his friends running around their preschool yard, running from imaginary enemies. To me though, the sight of a child pretending to hold a gun is just wrong on so many levels.
It's naive of course to think that I could shield my kids from toy guns and play fighting forever. It was bound to come up sooner or later, I just wished it had been later. I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to a part of my son that was pure, that hadn't been tainted with the idea that as an individual we could hurt another and that we should aim to do so.
Parenting is a gradual process of letting go. Image: istock
I always thought that I would have a bit longer to prepare how I was going to handle the situation. But here we were, the decision made for us.
When we got home I sat down with him and had "the talk" (not that talk). He sat, listening to me speak about guns. I explained what they are, what they did and why we don't play with them. I told him that not everyone in the world was good, I tried the best I could to make him understand how guns were not toys and how I didn't want him making them.
I've heard that parenting is, from the beginning, a process of letting go. For me, this week marked to beginning of letting go of my son's innocence.
Would you buy your son a doll?