Saturday, April 18, 2009

some might think I'm overprotective

We have a set of boy-girl twins that live in our neighborhood that are 10-years-old.

One day last week, when I took the children out for a walk, I noticed that the girl twin had joined forces with one of the other neighborhood girls and they had set up a lemonade stand in their front yard. It was such a sweet thing to see, these two young girls out selling lemonade and cookies in their driveway.

As we continued on our walk, sipping cups of powdered lemonade, I noticed that out of the corner of my eye, there were several kids running between trees and hiding behind cars. I stopped for a moment to see if I recognized anyone and that's when six boys, including the twin brother of the girl selling lemonade, rolled out from beneath a parked car wielding plastic toy shotguns which were pointed directly at us.

One of the kids was yelling, "Go left! Go left! I spot the enemy!!" and the other boys ran around, tripping all over themselves when I yelled back, "Enemy?! Are you kidding me?! I give out the BEST Halloween candy in the entire neighborhood!! Lower your weapons soldier or there will be no candy for you. I NEVER FORGET A FACE!!"

My girls were too distracted pushing their baby carriages and trying not to spill lemonade to notice the ruckus that was going on in the nearby yard. But my four-year-old son was watching the whole scene unfold with his mouth wide open. He looked up at me with eyes the size of saucers and said, "Mommy. WOW. That is so cool! What are those things those boys are playing with? I WANT ONE!"

And well. Here's the thing.

My kids have absolutely no idea what guns are.

And the fact is, I don't want them to know what guns are. I've been so careful about protecting my children from weaponry and the harm that they may cause, that I have actually gone so far as to swap out words in the famous story, "The Cat In The Hat Comes Back."

The little cats that reside in The Big Cat's Hat who are tasked with cleaning up pink snow may be clever, but they don't use guns and they don't kill snow spots. As far as our children are concerned, little cats A, B, C, D, E, F and G have good poppers and they POP all those spots.

So when my son saw a toy gun up close and personal for the first time and wanted to know what it was, I sweetly explained that they are called "Rainbow Lasers" and no, he can't have one.

And while we're at it, he can't ride a motorcycle or smoke cigarettes.


The incident was still fresh in my mind when Charlie and I took the children swimming this afternoon. When we arrived at the pool we were blissfully, the only ones there. But soon a young woman and a young boy appeared. I assumed that the woman was the boy's mother, but when she sat down and opened a book and didn't take a second look at the child, I figured she must have been a baby sitter.

The boy's name was Christopher. He was seven-years-old and very rambunctious. He will be starting third grade in 38 days. Although he was three years older than our triplets, he wanted nothing more than to play with them in the pool. And well, OK. Because socialization with older children is probably good.

(Or so they say.)

And what could I do to stop it?

Tell the kid to bug off?

One of the toys that our children had brought to the pool was a plastic shark. Christopher was playing with the shark when he looks to me and says, "You know. This shark looks just like Jaws." Then he turns to my preschoolers and says, "Jaws is a shark in a movie and he likes to swim around and eat people. He bites off their arms and legs and then he KILLS THEM and there is blood everywhere!"

Then while I stood there wondering, "How awkward would it be to just throw my hands over my kids ears and drag everyone to the jacuzzi?" Christopher takes the shark and starts smashing it against the wall of the pool.


I looked over to his oblivious guardian for some kind of interception while stuttering, "Whoa Christopher, easy on the shark. You might break it."

He stops his smashing and says, "I like the movie Jaws. I also like the movie with the guy who cuts off people's arms and legs with a chainsaw." My husband who had been walking around the shallow end with Henry, heard the conversation and incredulously asked, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? YOU have seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?! How old are you again?"

Christopher exasperatedly replied, "I'm SEVEN. I start third grade in THIRTY EIGHT DAYS." And then he continued, "I really like the movie with Freddy Krueger and then there's this other one with a guy named Jason. They like to KILL people. I love BLOOD."

My children were enthralled with this big boy, but I felt like I had just been dipped in gravy and tossed in to the lion's den. The kids started to jabber on about watching the movies he was referencing when I suddenly realized I wasn't sleeping and this wasn't a dream.

My sweet precious angels from heaven were being exposed to this.


So opting for the "Flight" response, I tossed up my hands and said, "HEY, I've got a great idea! Why don't we go home RIGHT NOW and I'll make you guys some popcorn and we can watch Cinderella? Because we LOVE Princesses. Yay Disney!! Yay popcorn!! Let's Go!! Bye bye Christopher!! Good luck in school!!"

Less than two minutes later, before anyone had fully comprehended that we were leaving, I had all four children out of the pool, wrapped in towels and heading for the car. And five minutes after that, we were back home and I was trying to convince Charlie that we should solicit bids for a pool in our backyard.

I truly see no reason why we ever need to leave the house, again.


  1. Home School, Home School, Home School! Oh Yeah! and Home School!!

  2. Watch this, or read the book. Fascinating, even for me and I have 3 girls!

  3. i feel your pain - i remember when my oldest son was about 4 and with his dad - and a 6 year old boy was with his dad - the boys were playing - when they got home i asked him what they did - he said we pulled the legs and wings off of grasshoppers. what????? i vowed he would never leave my house again, but he did. you just keep talking and explaining.......

  4. OMG, while Chase does know what a gun is (we live in SE TX and I married into a family of hunters) he also knows proper use, will go through a gun safety course before he's allowed to hunt, and never has access to them. I would have died had that conversation happened w/Chase at the pool, I definitely say a pool in the yard would be worth it!!! ;o)

  5. May I just say how much I enjoy your blog? I love seeing your children - but, it's your writing and thoughts I can really get into.

    You just have a way!

    I am much older than you (my 40th high school reunion is this summe!), divorced a long time, pleasantly single, with no children. Thus, I don't think about motherhood much.

    This little peek, I love!

    ~Mad(elyn) in Alabama

  6. It's a big bad world out there. But here's what is really cool about kids. When they get a great foundation at home, they know how to make good choices when they aren't at home.

    For instance, there is a boy at school who is awful and he's mean and he's just a menace. My kids have decided all on their own not to play with him. They don't like him and they won't engage him because they told me he isn't nice.

    Your kids will soon be taking their character, the one you've given the, everywhere they go. Then you won't have to flee.

    Or drown that little brat.

  7. Jen, I think this post hit home with me more than any you have written. I feel exactly the same way - and when we are out in public with the general population of kids - sometimes I think - "that's it. There is no choice but to homeschool." and yet all those around me are very against it, and my kid is very social, and I don't know if I'm disciplined enough for it - but the luancy in the world is just unleashed these days. I don't know how else you can really protect them until they are old enough to make wise choices and deflect peer pressure (30ish I think?) Ughhhh. You are not crazy. The world is. And IMO (and this will get me in trouble) the two main culprits are kids who spend most of their time with paid caregivers in a group environment and TV/the media.
    I wish I knew what to do.

  8. Now, that's when I pull the trump card. "Can I have the shark back? You aren't playing nicely so we are going to go now." (even though you want to scream You're scaring my kids you little jerk! That let's the little fart know that you notice even if his supervisor doesn't. And I just DARE that said supervisor to question me talking to the kid; that's when I fall into Mama Bear mode.

  9. Anonymous;

    You are so right!

    Home School...who cares what others think. The best thing you can do for your family is to protect, protect, protect......Your kids will always see and hear things that they shouldn't BUT....the way I see it is, your job is to shelter and protect them....the only way to do that and not give into the culture of "everything is okay" simple........Home school...not the easiest thing to do but the best thing. Often the hardest thing ~ is the best thing. Children need two parents who love and will protect them.......Then I truly think they will be okay.

    I say this only because ~ my kids ages range from ~ soon to be 17 (gulp!) through two years old...I have always been home with them and I have home schooled them for 7 years..My home schooled, sheltered, protected teenage kids are the best kids I've ever met.... They can talk to adults, play with small children and defend what is right.

    Forgive me Jen and so
    Sorry to get on my soap box....but I had a minute and thought I would check out the comments on this was a Great post by the way.

    You really opened a lot to discuss.....Maybe that is your next venture....Talk show host;)


  10. Ugh! I would have done the same thing you did. We were recently at a birthday party and a little 6 year old kid with a toy gun jumped out from behind a couch and started yelling "surrender or you'll die!" My two 3 year old girls started crying and virtually climbed up my body with fear. The mother of the child just smiled and went back to her conversation. My girls wouldn't leave my side (understandably!) and the party was ruined for them.
    IMO, if you are going to let your kids play with guns keep it IN your home and don't subject others to it.

  11. Wow--it is a big old world out there and as you know, very hard to keep your children protected all the time. That is why parenthood is such a tough job, but I know you can and are doing a good job at it.
    It is great that there are three of them the same age and they have each other to play and explore with.
    There are lots of good people also and I know you know them. Sometimes, we have to end up teaching others by our behavior.

  12. As a parent, of course it is our job to protect our kids, but I don't believe the best way to do that is put blindfolds on them and run away. Why would you let a 7 year old run you off from the pool? I would have just said, "In our house, the kids are not allowed to watch those movies, so please stop talking about them or you won't be allowed to play with us." or say something to his caregiver. And if your kids don't even know what a gun is, how will they know what to do if they find one? It is better to teach our kids how to handle these issues instead of being overcome with our own fears.

  13. I tried to keep my kids away from guns as long as possible too. One day when my oldest was about three we were flipping through the TV stations and he saw a gun. He tapped me on the shoulder and very quietly said,"Mom, I know what that is." Darn it, I was thinking, he's been exposed more than I thought. "It's called a shoot." Yep, he knew what those things were.

  14. Let me just say that you are not alone! And that would be why we homeschool...

  15. wow, I would have run from that horrow movie kid and my kids are all older than yours! I don't let my teenager watch that kind of stuff. I don't think you are overprotective, I think you are being a good mom!

  16. I could've written this post over and over again. I do my very best to be protective of what the boys hear and see and would have done the exact same thing with the pool incident (but so tempted to wack him on the head with the shark) and start saying "lalalalala" so the triplets wouldn't even hear that kid talking! Arghhhhhh! I'm shocked at what parents let children the same age as mine see/watch/hear without supervision or explantion. TV's in their bedrooms too which whatever they want to watch! GRRRRRR. And as for changing words in books, I do the same thing!!!!!!!!!!!! In fact if I see a book that has words that are offensive or bad but the rest of the book is good I have even taped a piece of paper over the word (in a libary book for instance) and so while we read it says the word that I want it to say and then take it off before returning to the library. :) Good job mom! My son goes to a Christian school and you even have to watch the "other" kids in there!

  17. Huh, I actually thought the first story with the kids playing and acting like you were the enemy was hilarious and that you handled it very well. Better than I would have, I suspect.

    Regarding the 7-year old, that's sad - sad to think what else this kid is lacking from his parents.

    However, I also don't know if I fully agree with your take on the gun thing. There are several vocations that require a gun: soldiers, officers - and frankly, if someone came into my home to harm my family, you bet I would wish I had a gun in my house to blow them away.

    But we are talking about children. And the children of people in these vocations are exposed to the existence of guns. Does that make them corrupted children? I think not. Does mentioning the word to my children corrupt them? No, but what will corrupt their wisdom is how I explain its use.

    I have a 6-year old son, and my job is to raise a man. A man who will protect his family if the need arises, a man who will fight for his country if that is his choice, a man who will do what is necessary in the event the unthinkable happens. I may wish the world was a fluffy happy place, but the reality is that there is evil, and my children need to see its face in order to recognize when they are encountering it... and therefore battle it.

  18. I was much more appalled that the twin brother was playing underneath a parked car than the fact that he was playing with a toy gun! An unknowing driver could have hopped in and driven away, crushing the boy without ever knowing.

    It is my strong belief that if we hide things from our kids in an attempt to protect them, they will just be more curious about it when they are introduced to it in the "real world."

    I like to believe that I have four well-adjusted children who in fact play with water guns and cap guns. In no way do I believe that because they play with such things, they will turn out to be violent, malicious children.

    If children are brought up in a home where they are taught values and morals, I can't honestly believe that toys guns will corrupt them.

    Heck, my brother and I, and a ton of our friends played with them when we were little and we all grew up to be productive American citizens.

  19. I'm with you on this!! I have to say I'm terrified of my son playing with guns. He's only two and we went to a friends this weekend and her two year old had a gun. Really?? At two??

    I even was concerned tonight when we were watching America's Funniest Home Videos and the were blowing up snow men. Ok... time to turn the channel....

  20. After that, your own pool sounds REALLY logical! :D

    Ya no, after readin your blog for a LONG time... and after alodda the things you have said... if you ever wanna withdraw from the world with me, lemmie no. You can read all about my desires on the front page of my MySpace page. If what I want ever comes troo, it will be a place of *PEACE*, and nothing but peace! :)

    ~Cindy! :)

  21. Homeschooling is a fine decision but it will not prevent your children from being around the kind of children you've described. You will still run into them at the pool, the park, the Y. Not every bad public encounter can be blamed on public school.

    I have to disagree that the only way to protect and shelter my children is to homeschool.
    We have chosen public school and we still are very protective and have given much thought and prayer to our choice. We of course think our children are fine, well rounded young adults who can graciously interact with all people. Homeschooling is a great choice for those who choose it, but the attitude that says it is the best and only way to raise and protect our kids seems judgmental to me.

  22. We own guns and will discuss them when our child is "old enough" (we'll see when that is) but I think that aspect of your post is your own business. People should expose their children to what they know about and what they feel comfortable with and if you don't know about or like guns then its fair for you to say you don't want to have it around your kids for now.

    While I understand your reaction, I would agree with the poster that said she wouldn't let a 7 year old run her off from the pool. There is NOTHING wrong with telling an older child not to talk about certain things with your children. He was probably trying to show you guys how cool and tough he is, especially since it appeared that you were asking questions about it like he was too young for the movies he mentioned.

    All that being said, we're just as nervous about having our little guy go to public school but home schooling is not a financially viable option for us. sigh.