On occasional, an issue will arise in my life or in my marriage where I will say to Mark, “I’m going to ask the blog” . . . because I just cannot be trusted to make decisions on my own. Yesterday was one of those days. I’m going to need some feedback.
So . . . we have a kid down the street who has taken to walking around the neighborhood while wearing a plastic machine gun. Our house sits between his house and his friend’s so we get the pleasure of seeing him pass by several times a day. I’m certainly no expert on gun models but I’d say this was a replica of an AK47 that he proudly wears on a strap hanging from his back. It’s a disconcerting sight, especially because he’s not a little boy. He’s as tall as I am, and I’d judge him to be about 13 or 14 years old.I’ve had my own reckoning with the fact that boys are going to play with guns and I’ve pretty much accepted that it’s inevitable. But the thing that bothers me in this situation is that he’s really beyond the age where I think this is about games of cops and robbers, or pretend play. I think he’s getting a kick out of walking around the neighborhood like a badass packing heat. He’s practically strutting and looking around to see who is watching. He thinks he is HOT STUFF walking around with a gun, and you guys? It’s driving me bonkers.
I’m annoyed because my kids see him do this all the time, and my boys are equal parts freaked out and fascinated. Kembe has many memories of Haiti, where he regularly observed UN guards walking around with AK47’s, not to mention the guards at the orphanage who carried them. I don’t think these were usually pleasant interactions for him, so I don’t love that he’s got a neighbor walking by with a gun (fake or not). Every time he sees it, Kembe stops and stares. I’m also bothered by the fact that my boys give carte-blanche admiration to ANY male over the age of 10, so by nature, they probably now think that this kind of gun-toting is cool. India, on the other hand, repeats to herself “it’s just pretend, it’s just pretend” whenever she sees him, like she’s trying to calm herself down.
I’ve been slowly brewing about this issue, and then the other day saw the news of another school shooting and sort of snapped. I told Mark that I was worried that this neighbor kid thinks that it’s funny or cool to waltz around with a fake gun, and that he strikes me as a kid who would also be susceptible to some violent ideation if presented with access to the real thing. Not to mention, I’m sick of being startled by an armed figure out of the corner of my eye as I’m unloading groceries. I told Mark I was going to talk with the parents and ask if he could just leave the gun at home.
Mark thinks that talking to the parents is a bad idea, and while he’s not a fan of the behavior, he thinks that we’ve just got to live with it. I think that it’s reasonable to talk to the parents and explain it’s freaking my kids out.
What to you think? Am I overreacting? Should I just let it go, or say something?