The funny thing about motherhood is that there is no warning when some mommy challenge is on its way.
They just sneak up and surprise you, like one did to me when I picked up my son from preschool. It was 101 degrees outside and my head felt foggy as I noticed my sons’ red cheeks and wet hair from perspiration. I was trying to take a sip of water to cure my headache. It was then, with my two boys playing in a shaded spot we’d named the “magic tree” that my four-year-old used “the word” for the first time.
He had broken a stick and said, “I’m going to shoot something with my gun, bang, bang!” My mind raced. What is the appropriate response to this? Before I could say anything, he turned the stick/gun towards me and said, “Now I’m shooting you!”
There was no malice or anger in his voice, just amusement with this new activity. I told him that we never aim guns, real or not, at people, only at non-living things. He asked if he could shoot the sky.
“No,” I replied, thinking back to the posters they have in L.A. bus stations around New Year’s urging people not to shoot their guns into the air as stray bullets can kill. I explained the physics of bullets and why we didn’t want to aim up.
Although I don’t like guns and think they are too numerous and easily accessible in our country, I loved shooting BB guns when I was young. My granddad would let us shoot them into the pillows in his living room. Maybe not the safest thing, but we had a great time doing it.
As my son got into the car, he said that he was going to shoot the seats. Not knowing what else to say, I told him, “I don’t like hearing about shooting. We can send each other love and energy instead.”
I am, after all, an energy practitioner. But I was aware that my words fell flat.
On the way home, he asked me to tell him stories about the magical train forest. He enjoys interjecting “train crises” – “Mom, look out, there’s a broken bridge!”
“Oh no,” I replied, “What are we going to do?” He sat for a moment and answered, “We’re going to shoot sticky balls from the gun!”
Shoot sticky balls at the bridge? Of course! They would fill in the gaps in the bridge, like glue, so the train could continue. At last, something I could agree to. Happily, I told him that it was a great idea.
Thankfully he hasn’t mentioned guns since. Maybe I should start preparing for questions about where babies come from. I'm hoping those questions will be easier.