My children were not born knowing about guns.
When our twin sons were three years old, we were at the pool one summer day and one of them picked up a water gun. He looked it over and asked, “What’s this?” I told him it was nothing to play with and though it was colorful, he didn’t know what to do with it so he dismissed it and went off to splash.
I can’t count how many times I have been told, “kids turn everything into a gun. They just know what they are.” My son had no idea what that water gun was and I do not believe any child is born knowing what firearms are — they are taught.
Guns come at my now five year old twins in mass. Family members send Nerf guns, water guns and laser tag sets for holidays. Cartoons geared for little ones have weapons of all sorts though “only for use against the bad guys, mama.” Of course we have to turn the news down nearly every day to shield them from the latest school shooting. I am just not ready for them to be scared to go to school.
I talk incessantly about love and kindness at home. We pray everyday for those near to us and for our world. They go to Sunday school every week and hear about God’s love. National Geographic’s Little Kids First Big Book of Who sits on the table where they eat their meals and the most requested page is Martin Luther King, Jr.. We read over and over again how he fought segregation with peaceful protests and words. Rosa Parks and Gandhi get requested frequently, too.
My children know “Mama doesn’t like guns” and I respond to any gun play with “We don’t shoot anything God made.” We talk instead about ways to love the world.
We plant plants.
We fill our blue United Thank Offering boxes with quarters and gratitude.
As a priest, I end almost every worship service with a blessing about caring for every created thing.
We are even planning our parish retreat about love.
All of these actions are my attempt to counter the violence my precious innocent children have already encountered in their short little lives. And I know they are lucky not to have experienced any violence first-hand. I can only pray it balances out at the very least…the good and the bad, the broken and the beautiful, the truth of the world and the hope I have for it, the ways of the world and the Way of Love.
How do you counter the violence your children encounter?
[Image Credit: Dean Hochman via Flickr]