My son, the one who insists that I mind my manners when we are out in public, the one who loves music and knows the worth of a pretty sky, said to me today "Mom, I'm gonna go over to Vic's and see if he can come and play war with me."
But did I stop him? Did I put on my politically correct mommy hat and tell him no, we don't play "war" at our house? Nope. See, here's something I learned about my son a long time ago: if I say no, it will become incredibly attractive to him, and he'll become like a six year old crack addict and be JONESIN' for guns. The first and only time I ever told him I didn't want him to play with guns was when he was 3. He was in preschool, and a couple of the boys were being "gunners" on the playground. We were in the car, and I told him I wasn't crazy about him playing that way, and didn't really want him to, and he said this:
"Mom. I'm just PLAYING. That's how I LEARN."
This freaked me out slightly less than the time he was two and four months, and I asked him (rhetorically, not expecting an answer) "Why are you being so STUBBORN???!!!", to which he replied "I'm just testing my boundaries." At that very moment, I knew my life would not be easy. Well, that's not exactly true. I knew it a few months before that, when I let him play in my room, while I closed my eyes because I was nursing a migraine and I heard him say "I'm sorry she's not available", and when I opened my eyes, he was walking around my bedroom in my red high heeled slides, with daddy's glasses on, talking into my vibrator. I guess that's when I really knew.
Anyhoo, I digress. The reason the gun play doesn't worry me is this: there are too many other things to worry about. Like will he have a friend (answer: yes. Vic is almost 9, and as long as he doesn't have to play ball with Joe-Henry, who has all MY god-given football throwing abilities, thinks my son is the best thing since exploding candy.) Vic's a good kid, who will push the boundaries as far as he can, and Joe-Henry will always reign him in. They played war (they were on the same side), and at one point I think I was the enemy, but it didn't last because Joe-Henry called out "HEADS UP, MA!" He sounded a little like James Cagney. As I dug in my garden today, it started to rain, and the boys holed up in Joe-Henry's decrepit wooden castle in the back yard. It didn't help much because there isn't a roof on it, but I dug out an old shower curtain and they were happier than pigs in a poke. When I took them a snack, I asked how the war was going. They'd given up on war, and now were hunting polar bears.
Please. Don't tell Greenpeace.
I saw a book title last night at the bookstore called I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids". I didn't read it, or anything esoteric like that, but I loved the title. It made me think of all the things I swore I'd do (or not do) when I raised my child. And I had to laugh. Parenting is nothing like I thought it would be. I thought I'd be so hip and funny, and knock-wood, I still have my sense of humor, and I occasionally make my son laugh, but the laugh is on me ninety-eight percent of the time. At least.
We make up the rules as we go, we try our best to be consistent, and we do our best to enjoy the ride. Luckily, the driver seems to know what he's doing.