I was faced with a bit of a moral dilemma yesterday. On the one hand, I am staunchly in favor of strict gun control (really I am in favor of gun elimination, but since gun-control measures are at least up for debate in our society, I allow my idealism to give way to realism now and then). Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know all of the arguments back and forth, to and fro, and side to side. (Cue Brian’s comments . . .) I’m not going to reiterate herein my side of what has been said before by others more eloquently than I in this age-old debate; that’s not the point of this here post. So, on the one hand, I’ve never let my kids play with toy guns, and Laura has never even had so much as a water pistol. On the other hand, I struggle here and there with the sequelae of a somewhat deprived and very dysfunctional childhood; my early experiences included being left out of after-school activities, scouts, camps, dance classes, ice-skating trips, Candy Stripers (are those still around?), etc. because I didn’t have the right stuff to attend, like the uniform, dues, T-shirt, costume, equipment, or a mother who would carpool. I was always the only kid without whatever it was that was required to participate in whatever it was that all the other kids were doing. Don’t cry for me Argentina, I’ve had a lot of therapy, and some of it has stuck. But I do still want my kids to have the important things that I had to do without. So when I took the Maternal Oath of Office before giving birth to my first child, I put my hand on the Bible and vowed that I would faithfully protect, preserve, and defend my children against the tyranny of being the kid whose mother didn’t provide whatever it was that her kid needed to participate in school and extracurricular activities.
Yesterday Laura came home from summer camp and told me that everyone was supposed to bring his or her own water gun for the next day’s “Water Games” activity. Some days they have water balloons, some days they have a Slip-N-Slide, and the next was to be a water-gun fight. Laura knows well my policy on guns, and so she didn’t even ask if she could get a gun, but being the rule-follower that she is (Lord, hear my prayer, may this rule-following behavior continue throughout her teenage years), she asked if it would be okay if she could just borrow another child’s water gun for some of the time so she could play too. Ach! If there was someone with a stethoscope monitoring my heartbeat at that moment, the listener would have heard the sound of breaking glass. I could think of no compromise here. Either my child would have a water gun or be watching on the sidelines while everyone else had fun. I needed divine guidance. My next therapy appointment wasn’t until Friday morning, too late to help me. Then I had a flash of brilliance: Henry is doing Water Games too. I could draw upon skills that Trish was certain to have picked up while being raised in a strict Catholic setting, skills such as Quelling Guilt When You Compromise Your Moral Code to Fit Your Immediate Needs. Heck, my parents regularly dropped us off for the free babysitting known as Sunday School at the local Baptist church, so I ought to have been well trained in how to compromise principles for something perceived to be a greater good. But still, I wanted to know how Trish was handling this particular dilemma. I rang up Blogging Mum.
Cheri: “Hey, it’s me. Did Henry tell you that they’re supposed to bring water guns to camp?”
Cheri: “What are you going to do about it?”
Trish: “I’m at Target right now buying one.”
Trish: “I know.”
Cheri: “Will you buy a gun for Laura?
Trish: [Calls out] “Henry, grab another one for Laura.”
Cheri: “I can’t believe I just said that.”
Trish: [Laughs] “I know.”
Later, Trish and I exchanged emails.
Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 9:25 PM
I got Señor Enrique and Señorita Laura’s pistoles. They shoot, but don’t look much like guns. I hope they have fun tomorrow.
Date: Wednesday, July 18, 2007 7:05 AM
I still can’t believe that I uttered the words, “Will you buy a gun for Laura?”
Sent: Tuesday, July 18, 2007 7:43 AM
Hers is pink and sort of space-age looking. More like a giant vibrator than a gun. Does that help?
Date: Wednesday, July 18, 2007 7:44 AM