Sometimes you have to make tough decisions. Sometimes that means breaking your child’s heart to do the right thing for them. Today was my day. My day to watch my child cry over a change in plans. A change that had to be orchestrated just right, because he would not understand the reason we did this. We did this to preserve his innocence. Isaiah’s innocence is a precious gift. So precious, that the thought of losing it in one day was more than my husband or I wanted to bear. It is so easy to think of our children as older than they are, understanding more with their big vocabulary. Using their bodies in amazing new ways to climb, jump and run. They seem like big kids, don’t they? They do, but they’re not. They are young, they are innocent and it is our job to keep them that way as long as we can.
My husband decided that this week would be a great time to take Isaiah to a gun range, and finally teach him about gun safety and how to shoot a gun. I was informed of this via email after he had already mentioned it to Isaiah. So, not wanting to be the bad guy I said OK, although feeling a little uneasy. At the time I did not know where this uneasiness came from, but I didn’t have a good argument against it, and my husband and brother-in-law were so excited. Last night was prep night. Get the guns out and unloaded. Pack them up, pack the ammo, and all the equipment. Isaiah was so excited, he kept asking if he could help, but of course the men said no, not this time. But they kept talking up how much fun he was going to have, how serious he had to take it, how it wasn’t going to be a game. Isaiah very seriously listened to every word, and behaved impeccably while they packed up. He was so excited to go to bed so that it would be morning and time to go, he was so sweet and cuddly. He told me he was a little scared, and would I hold his hand as he shot the gun?
It took no effort at all to get him to bed, so I jumped in the shower after he was tucked in. I don’t know why but as I showered, it occurred to me that this was the end of the little boy in him. He was scared enough that he wanted me to hold his hand while he shot the gun, and the moment he did that there would no longer be an imagination, a gun play, it would be replaced by the seriousness of a young adult. The boy who only days before was so upset when Mr Rogers showed his TV neighborhood a behind the scenes look at his sound stage. He was so angry when he realized that wasn’t Mr Rogers real house that he stormed out of the room. Wasn’t this the same thing? The same thing with greater implications? The wool would be removed from his eyes and he would never be the same. And so, I got out of the shower and discussed it with my husband. To my great relief he completely agreed. He was touched by the moment Isaiah asked him if he should bring his Nerf gun and bullets with him. At that moment, he realized Isaiah had no idea about what was going to happen at the range. And so we agreed to a rouse. Not days after I told my son there was never a good reason to lie. We agreed to lie to him. We would tell him his Poppy (my husband) was called into work to cover for a pro who was sick, and that he was the only one who would be available. We even decided to tell him we thought about it a long time, so he would understand how much we cared about his feelings and didn’t want to hurt him.
We knew this would be a tough one, so my idea was to take him to Bass Pro Shop and let him play at the shooting gallery all day if he wanted. No limits, however many times he wanted to play, I would say OK. And in the morning, I was shaken awake by an eager young boy saying “Mommy! We have to get up! We have to get ready to go to the shooting range with Poppy!” I was on…..I took a deep breath and explained about the change in plans. Immediately the tears started, the tears, the sobbing, the but he promised, but you said, but I was looking forward to it. As his heart broke, so did mine. But never did I think about going back on my decision. He will only be a little boy for this short while, and he is growing up so fast. There will be time for learning about weapons, and their power. Their will be time for so many grown up things. But for today, we will stick with Mr Rogers Neighborhood and Shooting Galleries and Carousels. Yes we had a carousel ride too!
All in all it was a great day. The boo and the Mommy got to spend a lot of time together, he rocked at the shooting gallery, earned himself the ranking of “marksman”. We videotaped that for his Poppy so he could show off his skills. He’s still sad, and we told him maybe next year. We’ll see.
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