So as he screamed the sleep away my husband, who was getting ready for work [a little too eagerly I might add] did something never done before. He asked our son to leave the room and closed the bedroom door.
"Tan, I think we should let him have the gun. Pete [his brother] and I grew up with spud guns and cap guns. Sometimes we played with them but not always. They didn't shape us into violent men. The more we say no to him, the more obsessed he's going to be. Why don't we let him have it and just be very clear about our boundaries?"
And just like that, I felt the pressure lift.
I have struggled with this decision ever since Stefan ramped up his campaign for the toy. It's one of the things I find most challenging about parenting. Having to make decisions with and for my family that do not always completely align with my own values. It's been a hard lesson for me to accept that and, actually, I probably haven't really yet. Because I have always parented full-time, while Mark works, I have made the majority of the day-to-day parenting decisions. Being a 'bit of' a control freak, I like it that way. But this week has been difficult for me and today I am grateful to share that decision.
So today, with my husband's full support - I succumbed.
We called Stefan back into the room and explained that he can have the gun and these are the rules:
- No shooting, aiming or pointing at anyone.
- No shooting, aiming or pointing at any animal.
- No shooting in the house.
- Share with your brother.
- No playing with it when we have friends come to play.
He agreed to all of them and repeated them back with a tear-streaked face that positively beamed.
Then he and his and brother set up a target outside and started shooting. The whole activity lasted 20 minutes and the gun has lay discarded on the kitchen table ever since they put it down to play basketball and look at their animal card collection.
And suddenly, I feel a bit foolish.
PS - I also want to say, you helped me through this process too. When I put this out there and asked for advice, I was so grateful and touched that you took the time to share your opinion and experience. I took on board all your wisdom about intent and values and gut feelings and boundaries and resistance. And I'm so impressed at what wonderful, insightful readers I have in my little online community!
Thank you :)