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.
"DIE SHARK!! DIE!!"
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.