Thursday, May 3, 2012

Children Are.....

Children are ?????

I really wanted to title this Children are Stupid but children and my son in particular are not stupid, they are just children. He’s actually very smart. However he is 14 and at this age they seem to be bound and determined to drive me to homicide. I say they because he is my 3rd and final teenager. Hubby and I also have two 18 year olds and our mantra has become…last one, he is the last one, the end is in sight, don’t strangle him and bury him in the backyard, we‘re almost there. Repeated until the desire to murder has passed.

The subject of this article is not actually about my son’s intelligence or his attempt to drive me to kill. It is about his ability to apply what he has been taught all of his life and my misconceptions.

We are a gun family. There is not a single place in my home where you cannot lay your hands on a gun in three steps. All of our children started handling guns at a very young age, my oldest couldn’t even sit up in her stroller the first time I took her shooting. The oldest 2 started with their BB guns at 2, 22 rifles at 4, pistols/hunting rifles and bows at 7 and were hunting on their own around 9. Shotguns were a bit different for them because of their size differences (a girl and a boy). Our baby is 5 years younger then the older two. He got a bit of an advanced course because he was following behind his siblings. He knocked out his first 4 baby teeth learning to shoot an AK-47 from a prone position. He was doing wonderfully with it when at the last second he turned his head and placed his mouth against the butt as he pulled the trigger. He never cried, he just got up, walked over to me, spat four tiny little teeth into my hand and said, “That hurt. I not do that no more.” and asked if he could shoot it again. They have all received their Hunter Safety Certifications and excel at marksmanship.

Hubby and I have drilled gun safety into their heads. REPEATEDLY!!! We were considerate parents when the kids were small and wanted to have sleepovers we always informed the other children’s parents that we had guns in our home. We always reviewed the safety rules with the children and again when their friends arrived. And we watched them like a hawk. We have never had any problems with any of them. Until we did.

This weekend 14 yr. old Slick (nickname for the baby of the family) had his 14 yr. old friend stay the night. They have been friends since they were 4 and have spent countless nights at each other homes. This weekend was different….for me.

They were in Slick’s room playing video games and discussing how many Loco Taco’s they were going to order. I was getting ready to make a run to Taco Bell. My son comes to my room and asks me if he can show his friend Daddy’s bayonets, which are stored in one of the gun cabinets. I stop what I’m doing so I can go into the living room and supervise. I remind them that these are not to be played with, that the guns in that cabinet and in my home are NOT toys. They are weapons. They are loaded with real bullets. They will KILL you DEAD! THEY ARE NOT TO BE TOUCHED WITHOUT MY PERMISSION AND SUPERVISION! (Using my Mom is not playing with you voice) Then I allow my son to remove the bayonets, show his friend and replace them. Slick asks if he can show his friend Daddy’s black powder pistol. I told him I didn’t know where it was (it is Hubby’s gun and not one I use). He knew where it was…in an old wooden military ammo box in the corner of the living room next to the entertainment center under a huge plastic tub filled with dog food. I told him “not right now. I have to finish getting ready to go get our food.” When I get out of eye sight I hear my son whisper, “I’ll show it to you in a little while, after my mom leaves”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT???????????????

What happened to all of our safety lessons? What happened to ‘These are NOT toys. They are weapons. They are loaded with real bullets. They are not for play. They will KILL you DEAD! THEY ARE NOT TO BE TOUCHED WITHOUT MY PERMISSION AND SUPERVISION!’ When did my mean mom voice quit working? What happened to the chorus of “Yes Ma’am’s” I had gotten not 2 minutes before? What happened to all that my husband and I had strived to teach our children about guns? What happened to my sweet obedient child?

Turns out nothing had happened to him but something had happened to me…I forgot.

I forgot that he is a child. I forgot that teenagers don’t listen to their parents. I forgot that their frontal lobes are not fully formed and that they make rash irrational decisions. Yes he is bigger then me. Yes he is growing up. Yes he is my last one. Yes the older two had never tried anything like this. But I am the parent. I am the adult and I should have remembered that children are always children (no matter how big they get) and they will try to get away with as much as or more then they think they can get away with.

No my child (nor your children) is not stupid but he is still a child. No matter how much he would argue with me for calling him a child the fact remains that he is still a child. Children don’t think things through. They don’t consider the consequences of their actions. They act on impulse. Children never think that they could die from one tiny little mishap. That is our job as parents.

Don’t make the mistake I did. Don’t get complacent. Don’t take the chance. Don’t depend on your children to remember the lessons that you have worked so hard to teach them. In a crucial moment their bravado will override your voice in their head. They may do something stupid and it may cost them their lives. Had I not heard my son’s whisper, our weekend could have had a very tragic end.