I'm Sticking to My Guns On This One
Eyeball's shot as mother gets pegged by Nerf gun-wielding 5-year-old.
I was standing at the kitchen sink doing the morning routine. Still in my robe, making a ham sandwich and cutting off the crusts.
The kids were coming and going. I’m shouting orders, “Brush your teeth, brush your hair, the bus is coming!” Half of me was moving mechanically. Half was listening as this one or that one got my attention to sign a permission slip or find the $2.50 for hot lunch.
My morning coffee hadn’t kicked in yet. I was snapping the lid on the sandwich container when, BAM! Searing pain pulses through my eye socket. My hand goes to my right eye as I turn around to see my 5-year old wielding the Nerf gun at the top of the basement stairs. The bleepin’ dart hit me square in the cornea! It really hurt! My ears were ringing, my eye was watering and rage was building.
“Put that #*% thing down!” I roar! Literally my eyeball was throbbing and I was really crying! It hurt; I thought I was emergency-room bound.
Like a lunatic, I started waving my arms around and grabbed the first thing that hit my arm. It must have been my “fight or flight” reflex as I lunged toward whatever was in front of me and grabbed the Nerf gun. Fuming, I opened the cabinet door and threw it right in the trash. Ranting through tears, “your worst nightmare has happened! You shot someone in the eye and those stupid guns are all getting thrown out! Round ‘em up!” One by one, all the ammo in the house was forlornly chucked into our trash barrel.
As I slammed the cabinet door shut, I flashed back about five years. I never wanted these things around in the first place! That's right. I was one of those moms who was going to say no to all guns for my boys. Toy guns, water guns, big, little, whatever. What was the point in playing with them, really? I was against it. I remember saying so. I'm sure I did. I’m sure I even bragged about not having toy guns in the house. I’m so civilized and my boys will be too!
So what the heck happened?
I got suckered in, that’s what happened. They just sort of showed up from birthday parties, gifts from “fun” uncles and being left around from the kids that trolloped through the house on any given summer day. I had a few more babies and just let things slide a bit. They popped up here and there and it wasn't long before I even bought a few serious water shooters I just couldn't pass up on an early summer day.
Like so many instances with our kids, we just sort of get soft. They're having fun, what's the harm? We don’t slip on purpose. We just do. It usually happens slowly over time and in most instances it’s harmless. But as moms we need to remember our first instinct is always right.
I had a friend who realized she had been defeated on her anti-gun household stance and surrendered. But she didn’t surrender without a fight. She spent the next few months teaching “gun safety.” I thought that was brilliant. No shooting at a person, only targets, always hold your firearm down, never load it when people are around, etc. I tried that for a while. It was exhausting. And then I just caved too.
Now here I was paying the price. Hand over my eye, crying on the couch. I was pathetic. I even asked for the Bob the Builder boo boo ice pack from the freezer. My kids just stared at me. Scared to say anything except to give a gentle pat on my back.
It was one of those times when I thought to myself, I should not be carrying on like this in front of my children, they will have scars. But it honestly did hurt.
So I just sat there, tending to my wounds and calming myself down. Just like I ask them to do when they’re upset.
Finally, my little guy, the “perpetrator,” approached timidly, climbed up onto my lap and, holding my face in his two little chubby hands said, “I’m sowwy mommy,” little crocodile tears in his eyes. And I was given the opportunity to teach him one of life’s most valuable lessons about love and relationships. I accepted his apology. Still crying, still hurting, still needing that ice pack, I ditched my self- indulgence, my victimhood and I hugged him, and forgave him.
After they went to school, I sported the pirate patch from the costume bin as I cleaned up the breakfast dishes and threw the napkins in the trash. There were the guns, all six of them. I do wish I never started allowing toy guns. I’ll admit I don't want them around now simply because they are annoying. But today it is much less based on principle like it was five years ago.
So tempted to pull the guns out, I left them there. I took them out with the trash. I wasn’t caving this time. My instincts were right. I am sticking to my guns on this one.