“You know what they call a hero who doesn’t have people to lead or protect?” I ask her.
“What?” says Kyle.
“A villain.” – Anne from “Take Your Daughter to Work Day.”
About a week ago, police officers visited my son’s elementary school to read the kids a book, show the kids a K-9 officer, and let the kids sit on their motorcycles. (MVPD Police are very active in the community).
I was there for the last part and class was dismissed a few minutes later. Grimlock was electric with excitement. He said he wants to be a policeman when he grew up. 100% sure of it.
Then a few days later, I was talking to a mom at afterschool pickup and learned that Grimlock, two other cohorts, and her son were put in time out and severely reprimanded by the yard duty person, to the extent that they were told they would never be allowed at school again.
The reason: the 5-year-old boys were playing with their hands as guns. Clarifying questions revealed the boys were playing “police”.
I appreciate that the school has such quick and severe response to the idea of “guns” at school, but I thought the threat was too severe. I’ll deal with the admin.
For now, I had to deal with Grimlock and guns. A difficult thing to do since his dad, Futurehusband, grew up with guns and believes that, with the right care, instruction, and attitude, guns can be a normal part of life. (I don’t believe this and it has been a point of contention, and will continue to be one.)
This is the conversation I had with Grimlock, in which I attempted to frame the idea of “guns” within a topic that was broad and comforting.
Me- “What do you think a hero is?”
G- “I don’t know.”
Me- “Who’s your favorite hero?”
G- “Iron Man and Hulk.”
G- “I don’t know.”
*Then I couldn’t help it. I had to ask:* “How about Black Widow. Is she a hero?”
G- “Because she has a lot of guns. And she’s a lady.”
*I didn’t expect that, but it reinforced a suspicion.* “How about the Minions. Are they heroes?”
G- “Because they’re small.”
Me- “How about Gru? Is he a hero?”
Me- “But he wants to be known as a bad guy. Do you think he’s still a hero if he’s a bad guy?” *This is me nudging into the territory of whether or not Grimlock has an idea of identity.*
G- “Because he saved all those houses.”
Me- “How about police. Are they heroes?” *Here’s me trying to bring this conversation back under control.*
G- “Because they have police outfits.”
Me- “Do you think having a hero outfit makes you a hero?”
G- “I don’t know.”
Me- “If Daddy had a police outfit, would that make him a police man?”
G- “No. He would be a Police Daddy. *laughs*” *Kids are weird.*
Me- “Do you think being a hero depends on what you wear or what you do?”
G- “What you wear and what you do.”
Me- “Why do you think being a hero depends on what you wear?”
G- “So you have somewhere to put your guns and stuff.” *There’s logic in this.*
Me- “You know what, Hulk doesn’t have guns or shoot guns. Why do you think he’s a hero?”
G- “Because he has big fists. He can punch bad guys.”
*I was getting pretty desperate so I tried to lead the witness* –
Me- “How about firefighters? They save a lot of people. Doesn’t that make them heroes?”
Me- “Why not? Saving people makes someone a hero. And firefighters save people from burning houses.”
G- “I wish our house was burning.”
G- “I never seen a real fire. I want to see a real fire.”
That’s when I thought we could stop talking for a while.
Apart from the fact that it can be very difficult to talk to Grimlock about serious topics, I glimpsed the world through his eyes.
To him, heroes always have a weapon. And usually, it’s a gun.
To him, being heroic was less about saving people and more about shooting bad guys.
I’m sure there’s a “Well, he’s just a kid. This is the perception he has of the world right now.” argument to be made. But somewhere along the line, his perception of a Hero has shifted from a courageous person who saves, protects, or improves lives to a person who vanquishes enemies with guns. And sometimes giant fists.
Hang out in my mental playground! My short are stories available on Amazon, Fresh Cuts: Breaking Volume.
And meet me in person! On February 19, 2016, (Friday) my writing group is leading a Writers Workshop, hosted by Book Buyers in Downtown Mountain View. It starts at 7:30pm. **Parking can get tricky; I suggest you make a night of it and come to Mountain View at around 5:30 or 6pm and use one of the numerous free lots and parking structures just off of Castro Street. Have dinner at Crepe Vine. Get a Boba drink. Then come to Book Buyers.**
Where: Book Buyers – 317 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041
When: Friday, February 19, 2016 7:30pm