Every now and then when I need a good laugh, I’ll think back about how I envisioned parenthood:
My children would be adventurous foodies, love veggies and never want fast food. Cereal for dinner?! Not in my house!
If I had a girl, she would be just as comfortable in the dirt as she was with dolls. If I had a boy, I knew he’d be open minded, love theatre, art and dolls as much as he loved playing rough. Guns would be out of the question.
So when my son, wide-eyed with excitement shouted, “I want that gun!!” as we were out holiday shopping, I thought back to that perfect child in my mind.
Definitely a figment of my imagination.
I have brothers. I remember their toy guns from growing up. But truth be told, they make me uneasy. Perhaps it’s my years reporting about gun violence, and now working at a hospital where doctors deal with gun trauma on a daily basis.
Dr. Laura Saunders, a clinical psychologist at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living and also a mother of two, points out young boys are often drawn to weapons.
“To some degree you can monitor that and set guidelines. We do not buy toy guns. But when my son created one out of a toilet paper roll and staples, we let him play with it. He wasn’t allowed to point it at people, but it was a creative outlet for him.”
Dr. Saunders says the latest research shows most kids are able to filter out what is real and what is not.
“Allow their natural interests to play out,” Dr. Saunders suggests. “but instill your values and make sure they know your guidelines.”
No, my son is not the perfect little boy I may have once imagined. He turns his nose up at most veggies and loves cereal for dinner. He turns sticks into imaginary guns and swords. He is creative, inquisitive and oh-so-opinionated.
Simply put, he is who he is, perfectly imperfect. And I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
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