A Long Post About Big Guns And Little Men, With Footnotes That You Don't Have To Break Into Your Reading To Read, If You Know What I Mean, You Can Just Read All The Paragraphs In Order, It Will Probably Make More Sense That Way Anyway
Yesterday, when I picked up Jackson from preschool, the woman who runs the school came over and told me that Jackson had been aggressive that day. Did he hit someone, I asked. No, she said, but he'd been doing a lot of pretend ha-CHA! fighting with Tommy* and sometimes it got a little out of control. And she must have seen the little flame of death, the imminent parental denial apocalypse of he's just a little boy and little boys don't play like little girls, you total fucking bitch behind my eyes because she hastily added that a little bit of play fighting was okay, just don't encourage it; don't use Power Rangers*** as role models. And I knew that she was essentially right, no one wants to raise a flipped out little squib who punches people in the face for fun, but when we came home and I told Jack what she said, he got that same expression on his face, that tired, fucked-off no one's going to tell me how to raise my kid expression, and he turned to Jackson and said, Hey buddy, want to watch some Power Rangers?
*Tommy** is one of Jackson's current best playmates; to see their faces in the morning when they meet at school, the big shy blushing smiles, is to see two people who are totally in love with each other and don't know how to hide it. But instead of kissing they go take turns hitting their heads against a wall and doing that ha-ha!-I'm-in-a-straightjacket-and-I-have-Albert-Einstein-hair! laugh. Laughing like insane little physicists. I think that's what I'll say from now on when people ask me if I have any children. No, I'll say, I live with my husband and an insane little physicist.
**One day we ran into Tommy and his mom at the toy store. Tommy was looking for glop, or slime, or something disgusting that makes a huge mess, and his mother seemed fine with that. We were looking for a gun. Yes, A GUN. And we told Tommy's mom what we were looking for and she said, Good luck. And guess what? You can't find a toy gun in a toy store, not in Santa Barbara at least; maybe we'll have to drive to Bakersfield, I don't know. The point is, we discovered that there's not much point in not letting Jackson play with guns, because he can take anything and pretend to shoot you with it: a tube of lip gloss, a bike pump, a vegetarian breakfast sausage, a Rubik's cube. Jack heard tell of a mom who adamantly wouldn't let her son play with guns, so the son would bite cookies into the shape of a gun and shoot her with them. I also heard Terry Gross interview Matt Damon once and he talked about how anti-gun his mom was when he was a boy, and then he grew up and made The Bourne Identity, an action movie where, you guessed it, he shoots, like, fifteen people. (Actors, yes. But are not actors people? Who speaks for the actors? Melissa Gilbert?!) So, what lesson can we take away from all of this? You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink unless you threaten him with a green plastic water pistol shaped like a luger, which is what my brothers used to do to make me get up and change the channel on the TV. Yes, I was born before remote controls, and we only had seven channels. And we walked to school in the dark, uphill both ways.
***One of the reasons that I thought Power Rangers**** would be okay for Jackson to play with is because they're all into being ninjas. Ninjas, as everyone knows, prefer deception to outright violence, charisma to belligerence, night to day, and, though philosophically opposed to actually starting a fight, they'll sure as shit finish one. So I think that's a good philosophy for a two-year-old. I mean, enough with Elmo. We are so far beyond that now.
****I would also like to point out that these big, tough ninja Power Rangers actually have names like Blake and Dustin and Tori, they take orders from a guinea pig, and they have prosthetic legs and wear Rockports.