Monday, June 1, 2009

Ready Or Not, Here Come The Light Sabers

Late Blooming Dad often teases me that I went to a commie-pinko kumbaya touchy feely private school. He's exaggerating, of course, but the Friends school I attended (Friends schools are run by the Society of Friends, otherwise known as Quakers) did emphasize peace, made community service a requirement of graduation, and required everyone from faculty to students sit together in a silent meeting house for twenty minutes every day at the start of the day. They also banned toy guns, decades before the school shootings that plague American society today. If you were caught with so much as a dime store water pistol (remember dime stores? But I digress ...), you were sent home for the day and your parents were taken to task.

Naturally, as a mom, I try to limit my kids' exposure to violence, but there's only so much one can do.
Our kids don't watch the news or any adult TV shows, and the only on-screen violence they've been exposed to has been that contained in classic Warner Bros. cartoons. Even those, which I grew up enjoying and whose artistry, humor and inventiveness I admire as an adult, are a bit dicey in my view, but after some initial hesitation, I'm letting the kids watch them uncensored. Thing 1 thinks they're hysterical and generally laughs in all the right places, though Thing 2, being the more sensitve sibling, needs constant reassurance that the coyote is never going to catch the Road Runner. Thing 1, perhaps because he's a boy, readily accepts the coyote chasing that Road Runner and enjoys all the mishaps the coyote gets into. Thing 2, on the other hand, has asked me again and again why the coyote wants to eat the Road Runner. Today she asked me why Porky had a "blue eye" (really a black one) after watching Daffy slap him around a bit, then seemed reassured when, a few frames later, Porky's eye was back to normal. She knows that we in this house don't like guns, and asks a lot about the Warner Bros. cartoons in which somebody uses one. I keep telling her they are cartoon guns, not real guns, and it's real guns that are bad. But pacificist that I am, the only gun I'm really comfortable with is Duck Dodgers' Acme Disintigrating Pistol because when Daffy fires it, it disintegrates.

Last week at school, I was picking the kids up from the play yard when Thing 1 ran up to me with a rolled up piece of construction paper, taped together, that one of the teachers helped him make. He was playing with another boy who had a similar "tube," and who clearly had told my son that these tubes were light sabers. My son has never seen STAR WARS (though he will someday, it's as inevitable as a trip to Disneyland and getting braces). So I know it wasn't my son who named the tubes light sabers. Still, I was saddened, especially when the boy he was playing with came up to me, touched me with his light saber, and said, "You're dead."

But things got measurably better quickly when my daughter, who had witnessed this, leapt to my defense. She got between me and the kid with the "weapon" and loudly declared, "You can't hurt her. She has a hernia!"

It was one of those moments when a parent can hardly keep a straight face.

What made me even happier later was when my son, who'd brought the "light saber" home, showed it to daddy, but declared it "a telescope."

I'm hoping he thinks of it as a telescope for a long time to come.

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