Several months ago, much to the dismay of my two young sons, I imposed a No Toy Guns policy in our house. On a particularly upsetting night, I ceremoniously marched an armload of NERF and water guns out to the big trash can, plopped them down into the receptacle’s slimy, stinky depths, and shut the lid, effectively ending the ongoing “but what if I don’t ever point them at anyone and I only shoot at non-living things” debate that had long been a source of hope for them and wariness for me. I told them it was because they shoot at their little sisters and make them cry, and that was definitely part of my concern. But, if I’m honest, I would have to throw away virtually all of their toys if I tossed out everything that made someone cry, got used as a weapon, or was misused in a way that was potentially harmful to someone’s health. So, no, the No Toy Guns policy was not instituted solely to protect my little girls from the evils of the foam-tipped NERF bullet.
The truth is, one day last summer, I watched my oldest son, toy gun in hand, charge out our front door to run around the neighborhood with his little buddies from down the street, and I wondered if I had just seen him run out my door for the last time. I remember sitting down on the couch and just breathing, telling myself over and over that I was being silly. That there was nothing to worry about. That little boys need to play outside and have been running around toting toy guns and playing with their neighborhood friends for years and years and years and everything would be ok.
You are remembered. I hold my babies closer when I think about you. I pray for your family sometimes. I remember you at strange and seemingly random intervals. I teach my children to be safe and be brave and be loving, and I think about the fact that it is a privilege to teach my children…a privilege not extended to your parents. I do not allow my boys to play with toy guns…just in case. I’m so sorry that you were gone too soon. You were not here long, but you are remembered.