Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gun Shy

Snips and snails and puppy dog tails...

I've never figured out exactly WHAT a snip is, but whatever it is, it's a boy thing. I'm watching my children grow so fast lately it's beyond astonishing. Sometimes I stare at them and wonder how they ever came out of ME. Thankfully, when they are asleep, all curled up together like two wee, baby mice in a hectic tangle of a blanket nest, they still look like my sweet babies, NOT big kids who ride bikes and play ball. (Yes, I just signed Eli up for Little League...he's incredibly to just fit in in around work.)

Despite my attempts always to be completely gender neutral, my boys turned out to be BOYS. And I've figured out that that's precisely what they should be, if that's what they so choose. I'm not sorry they were offered dolls or tea sets, and I don't think it was a waste of time. I'm glad "boy things" were never shoved down their throats, if they choose them now, I can be supportive since I don't feel like they were pushed in that direction. Testosterone is a real thing though, it certainly plays a hefty part in what my boys do. Eli especially.

Eli has become very interested in guns of late. My initial reaction was to talk him out of it, but then I realized it was because I, myself, don't really enjoy them, but he shouldn't be made to feel wrong if he happens to. So, with my blessing, he and Grampa Butchie have been shooting a BB gun at empty cans on the lawn. I sat down to watch the other day and discovered that Eli is one heck of a crack shot. After each firing, Dad would take the gun back, put the safety on, cock it, and making sure the dinky thing was always pointed up, hand it back to Eli and instruct him to aim before releasing the safety. I almost laughed at how ridiculously strict he was being with what looked like a toy, until I remembered what dad was doing, and HAS done, as a hunter safety instructor for over 40 years, which is to always err on the side of caution. I recall my own BB gun days, we all had them as kids, and even though my father was a stickler on safety, it's so long ago that I'd almost forgotten HOW rigid his rules were, even concerning something that probably wouldn't cause much more damage than a hornet's sting.

By the way, when my sisters and I were packed off to Conservation Camp in our early teens, I actually won an award for loading a musket faster than anyone else... I also got into a fight with a counselor because I refused to eat meat (conservation camps aren't likely to offer a vegetarian option, in fact they served up actual road-kill the Fish and Game Warden had scavenged...even if my bout of vegetarianism WAS rather short-lived, the road-kill thing still gives me the willies) Nor would I fish with a hook, I'd just happily cast my bobber out onto the water and sit there all afternoon, daydreaming. Not to mention waging war against the twin sisters in my cabin who made fun of my small breasts five minutes after we met. (For more on THAT topic, see my last delightful Post Of Over-Sharing) I snottily set up a recycling bin in the rec room. (I mean, really, call yourself a CONSERVATION camp?) Oh, and one night, I self-righteously set free the mud puppy/giant tadpole thing that lived in the tank outside the cafeteria. (Whoops, I was going to take that to the grave with me, but now I've gone and blabbed it.) Sorry to disappoint you, Pops, but despite my winning the titles of Camp Knot Expert, Camp Naturalist and the aforementioned swift muzzle loading, I wasn't exactly a dream camper after all. (In fact, looking back, I think I was more likely considered a Pain In The Ass. PETA spelled with an I.)

As aggravated as I sometimes am that Dad and I don't see eye to eye on certain things, (hunting for instance!) I'm grateful that if Eli's interest in the sport deepens, he'll have the best mentor around. I won't worry that he'll accidentally shoot his eye out, (or his brother) or be careless with weapons. Even if he wasn't a very, very smart kid, he'll have it drilled into his head - that it's inexcusable, under in any circumstance, to point a weapon in an unsafe direction. Watching him take careful aim, the barrel propped up on the porch railing, he looks so much like my father that I wish my Grampa Avery could see him. I wish, in a fit of Vermonty nostalgia, that those three could stand on this porch together and target practice. I don't give a hoot about guns, but tradition is a big deal around here and I picture Grampa next to them, giving pointers, and swelling with pride at how well his tiny, muscly, seven year old great-grandson concentrates and dings that dang tin can every time. Once, when Eli built a small log cabin out of sticks and string on Grampa's lawn, Grampa raved about the cleverness of it for WEEKS to anyone who would listen. I think he'd like nothing better than to watch Eli learn to shoot. I wish he could.

Whatever I think about hunting itself, my mixed feelings in that department, or the truly disgusting coyote skins (dad's latest experiment in do-it-yourself taxidermy...oh dear God...) that are hanging inside out, in full view of my apartment, I'm STILL glad that Eli's getting the lessons he is. I'm positive my father doesn't wish he'd had sons instead of daughters, but I'm sure he must have been a left a tad wistful when none of us girls cared to carry on the Howe hunting legacy. I'm glad for his sake, AND Eli's, that this is a special thing they can do together. Anyway, I have no qualms about killing cans. You can still recycle them afterward.

No comments:

Post a Comment