guns and spirit

years ago, i had a “yucky toys” basket at preschool.

by the end of the school year i had collected teenage mutant ninja turtles, water guns, fake swords, power rangers, batman, spiderman, even superman. there were random furrowed brow muscular action figures and barbies. there was a hand-held video game system. all of these toys were collected from children because i determined that they “weren’t safe” (we continue with our request that parents don’t permit bringing “fighting” toys to preschool) and while the children could collect them at the end of the day, some didn’t.

then i had my daughter.
then i had my son.
then i had another daughter.

yesterday i listened to friends tell stories of dialogues between offenders and victims of horrific crimes. i heard them tell the injustice of the system. i believe in the responsibility of the society for these crimes. i know that there is training that happens. these offenders learned violence and responded in violence.

i’ve grown from an idealistic preschool teacher without children of my own to a wondering mother. from the young woman who stood outside the theatre showing the power rangers movie offering people a paper with alternative toy and activity ideas to the mother wondering if it’s not that “big a deal.” from the young woman who never thought her own children would participate in such play to the mother allowing such play and complaining about it at the same time.

here i am.

jerry and i worked for years through the issue of hunting…and even fishing. we’ve arrived. my husband, full of decency and respect for the natural world, practices hunting a few times a year. my son looks forward to joining him someday. my children all participate in raising animals that will be butchered and eaten. our freezer is full of white packaged meat from a local locker. with a soft but deep breath, this is okay for me.

but i’m running out of room in my spirit
for the simple practice of pointing guns at another person.


nerf guns, air soft guns, marshmallow shooters, rubber band guns…
all of these are in my home.
have i sold out?
have i evolved?
either way, what part of my child’s soul and mind is being cared for in this?

and that is the question. maybe there ARE parts of their souls and minds being cared for. in a world of fears and anxiety, maybe it is therapeutic to act out being the aggressor.

when i was little, i play all sorts of doom-and-gloom games. we weren’t allowed any guns, not even water guns, but we played games like “our mother is dead” and “orphan children” and “we’re all alone and someone is chasing us.” i wonder if it would have been good for me to be the aggressor at some point?

reading about the random shootings on the south side of chicago today makes my gut respond that it’s time to make a family change. if for no reason other than sheer respect for those living in violence.
no pointing guns at each other.
bottom line.

and if we move to that it will be like it’s 1995 again.
a seventeen year evolution.

8 thoughts on “guns and spirit

  1. Tough, right? This morning I was moved, by the NPR reports we listen to (and cringe to) every morning on the way to school, to share something with Maggie and Megan that I’d been thinking about for a few days. I need to share it with Lennon, too. It occurred to me that every TV show, every movie, every news report, every book, is filled with bad people. Many times there is murder. If we look around our world, and the stories we take in, we’d be led to believe that danger and evil are lurking around every corner. In reality, though, it’s just not true. Every story my children hear about Muslims on the TV or radio involves violence, involves war, involves bombs. They need to know that millions of Muslims are dedicated to peace. I need to show them. I need to show them that the world is not populated with bad guys. The world is not populated with evil.

    But who wants to “play peace?” It’s not a very fun game. We live in a world of antagonists and protagonists, with no room for standing on the sidelines. We must be for something or against something. Very few things just “are” any more. I wrestle with the ideas that behaviors that were reality for me, might require counseling for my son.

    Ramble. Ramble. Ramble.

    I just want my kids not to be afraid of their world.

    Thank you for your thoughtfulness, on this blog and in life.


    1. 1. playing “peace” is so much richer – think exploration (befriending the natives? Quakers did.), rescuing from fires and storms, complex building projects – it’s the challenge of working through something w/o just annihilating it that can be developed so much more. As they grow, the fun exploring worlds of science, music, languages, stories from the past. Kids are more creative in their play than we give them credit for.
      2. but it does matter what qualities we focus on, what stories. I’d bet that there are stories in your house that maintain dramatic tension w/o evil people, and that your kids have been exposed to some nonviolence heroes of the past. and present. I’ve lived to see my son earn a CPT hat and face down NYC cops; it can be done (he does give us a lot of credit for not having computer games in the house).
      3. get Waging Nonviolence on your fb pages, people. Really. It’s the best source of hope and light to see those stories pop up, even if I don’t read most. There is bad news, but there is so much good to which we don’t pay enough attention, to our own grief.
      Yes, violence is easy, and it’s ultimately boring. Given enough options, support, and resources to develop self-discipline, and enough self-discipline ourselves to not use violence as easy entertainment, the average kid will learn that for themselves. It’s a trick to shun weapons and violence w/o implying that it’s actually too scary to deal with – we don’t want to teach the negative as much as teach the power of nonviolence and loving courage – qualities I know are so present in your homes.


  2. I loved this thoughtful post, Kristin. I don’t allow toy guns in our house, not even water guns (or swords, or etc. etc.), but my children love play shooting games. Especially my boys. It troubles me. Or playing good guys/bad guys — why do my children love to do that? It disturbs me very much when they point their imaginary weapons at each other.


  3. This is a subject near to my heart. As a preschool teacher I have the rule no weapons at school. It bothers me when they play shooting games. I don’t let them play shooting games at school. My big reason is that guns really do kill people its how a boy in my class died at age 13 by random drive by in his apartments. I worry so hard about keeping a balance in the classroom. As a teacher I need to respect families but it also my job to keep children safe. Every classroom should be a safe place. How do we balance it as educators?


  4. I was deeply moved by this post. So thankful for your strong spirit and your resolve to keep pointing us all to everything that is decent and holy. Thank you for the tender care you offer all who have been put in your charge; your own dear ones, but also all the others (and there are so many) that have been given to you. We are all the richer for it. I’m proud and thankful. Much love, Dad


  5. With a 14 year old boy in this house playing with a 5 year old girl, sometimes I really have to step in and adjust the play. I’ll say, “why not play explorer? You’re on your spaceship and you’re hurtling toward the sun and can’t find your ______! You’re a farmer and your chickens got out of then pen!” I try to guide them, but they lpve the chase so much. The battles always wage. My challenge is to come up with reasons why he would be chasing her, or vice versa. “You’re a naughty food-stealing squirrel!” Most of the time, it works. They just want to chase each other and “get” each other.


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