Yesterday Archer came home from school and said a horrifying thing.
Responding to the sound of laughing voices outside he turned to me and said, “don’t worry, Mommy, I’m going to shoot the bad guys with my sword!”
My jaw dropped. Up until yesterday he had never mentioned “bad guys” nor had an affinity for swords. Or shooting.
“Where did you learn about bad guys?”
“And where did you learn about shooting?”
“What else is Harry teaching you.”
“Nothing. We were just playing superheroes and superheroes kill the bad guys with shooting them, mommy. It’s okay.”
“Um… actually it’s not okay. Shooting bad guys is not okay,” I said, before stopping myself. “I mean… unless these bad guys are trying to shoot you, in which chase, uh… I mean… actually. You can’t… You’re not supposed to… I- I- I- I…”
… gave up.
I didn’t know what to say. Up until yesterday Archer had never mentioned swords or guns or violence of any kind. I managed to keep superheroes and “bad guys” and weapons and people behaving aggressively
toward one another out of Archer’s mind and day-to-day experiences. And even though I knew it was only time before this day would come, it still came as a shock to me.
I was unprepared. On one hand I was happy to hear him makebelieving with the other kids at school but at the same time? He was talking about shooting something with a sword. Bad guy or not, it was the last thing I wanted to hear.
“We don’t shoot bad guys in our house, okay? Harry apparently has other rules but around here, everyone is a good guy, cool?”
Archer put down his make-believe weapon, shrugged and went to play Legos but I was shaking. Heartbroken. It was like watching my child strip himself of innocence in front of my eyes. I was unprepared. Completely. I’ve spent the last four years teaching Archer that the single most important thing a person can be is kind. Kind to themselves. Kind to other people and creatures, their planet, surroundings… no matter how awful things and people and the world can seem. No matter how painful a bee sting, you NEVER squash a bee. And now Archer was shooting things? Surely that was the MOST unkind act. And yet… trying to explain the whys and why nots seemed at once more violent than letting Archer go on with his friends and his make believe.
And so, I didn’t bring it up again, dealing instead with my own arguing voices and angst.
Why must there be pain and bad guys and violence and darkness and swords that shoot bad guys. Why Why must superheroes fight violence with violence? Why must I be so naive? Why does Harry have to have such a BIG MOUTH?
The truth was, I wanted to strangle Harry. I wanted to strangle Harry’s parents. I
wanted to strangle the world for being so cruel and unfair and violent
But being the pacifist that I am, I simply cried.
*names have been changed