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Saturday, April 25, 2009

"I'd shoot the monsters", she said with determination.

Several months ago, the television show 20/20 aired an episode on Guns. It was a neutral show just meant to show that maybe the viewer didn't know as much as they might think. I think the episode might also have been in response to the recent rash of public assaults with guns because the previews stressed the portion of the hour that had to do with high stress situations and whether it really would be safer to have a gun when confronted with a gun.

The show was very informative. The part of the show having to deal with the gun vs gun situation was very interesting, as promised. They took 10 people, gave them a weapons class and some training, and then put them into another class on gun safety. In the "fake" class they were allowed to wear the weapon concealed, tucked into the waistband of their pants. Unknown to them, the attendees of the class were all trained officers and police personnel.

Also unknown to them was the staged attack. A man walked into the classroom and shot the teacher and then pointed it around to randomly shoot students.

The producers of the show had loaded all the guns with paint bullets, small ones that would pinpoint where bullets would have landed. Then, they showed each armed students reaction to the violent attack. In all circumstances, because they were armed, they stayed and fought. Most of them had trouble getting the gun out of their waistband before being shot. Most of them exposed themselves by remaining standing. Most of them either missed completely the gunman or shot other attendees.

They talked about how much better the odds were for the person that simply ducked and ran verses the armed person who stayed to fight. In all circumstances, the armed student would have been killed. It was very shocking to me, but also informative to know this.

Then they moved on to the part of the episode that made me sick to my stomach. It was a recreation of an experiment they had performed once before several years ago, in which they placed real guns in a playroom with toys to see how young children would react. However, before the children were released to play, they all attended a "class" with a police officer on what to do if they found a gun. They showed a movie featuring (I think it was) Elmo. Then, while the police went to talk to the parents, the kids were allowed to play. In the playroom. With the guns. Having just been instructed on gun safety.

Most of the children, ranging in ages from 2-5, picked up the guns and played with them. Pointing them at eachother and pretending to shoot another child, or looking down the barrel, or just flinging them around. Out of all the kids, only one went to get a parent. Watching the scene made me sick to my stomach. Just one of those guns that hadn't been unloaded...

The final trial of the show focused on teens. In light of events such as Columbine and others, they decided to see if the teen generation had acquired an awareness of the danger. They set up a garage and advertised for teens to come and clean it to make some money. In one of the boxes, they hid several guns.

The hidden cameras captured the action of the kids cleaning, the discovery, and the reaction. It showed that, even after current events, the teens were just as enamored of the weapons as their pip-squeak counterparts. Some of them examined them, playing around; others packed them into boxes, just dropping them in as quickly as possible; only two of the groups immediately stopped and went to find the adult in charge.

I let the whole of the show sink in, thinking about how to apply the information I'd learned. We have guns in the house, and although I was sure Short Person knew to leave them alone... and although we keep the guns and bullets well separated and hidden... there's that nagging feeling. So, I decided to put it to the test. If my daughter found a gun, what would she do? Did she know to come and get us?


The showed aired on a Sunday or Monday, but as luck would have it, I did not get to sit down with Short Person until Friday. We were sitting on the floor in my office watching a television show and playing around. One of our silly games, but I don't remember which one. She was in a good mood, laughing, and in the mood to talk.

"Hey Sweetie, I have a question for you. It's something that Mommy really needs to know." I looked at her and watched as she gave me her full attention. Loving the way that she'd sat back so that she could see my face, and then looked at me with 100% of her attention.

"Okay, Mommy. What?" Her voice is chirpy. Light.

"Honey, what would you do if..." I paused. I needed a situation she could relate too. I tried again. "What would you do if you were playing in mommy and daddy's room and you found a gun?"

I paused, hoping for that reassurance I needed.

Short Person smiled big. "I'd go and shoot the monsters!" She said with determination.

"You would, huh?" I asked, somewhat deflated. How do you stress the importance of something to a 5-year-old? Especially something that is a potential life and death scenario, when the 5-year-old doesn't know what that means?

I looked at her, so exuberant and excited. "Okay, no... that's not what you do. Let's talk about this, okay?"

And then I took the time. The time to go with scenario after scenario, turning one more thing into a game and hoping she'd understand, believe me, and remember. In every circumstance, in every scenario, it ended with "Go get and adult". It didn't matter what house she was at, or which friend she was with. It didn't matter if she was with cousins older than her, or friends younger. It didn't matter if she was with a boy, or with a girl. The result was the same. "Get an adult."

We've repeated the game several times, with me holding my breath hoping she remembers.

If you've taken the time to read this, all I ask is that you take 5 more minutes and talk to your own children. No matter their age, make sure they know the answer. Take the time to give yourself the assurance. Take the time.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sleep Like A Rock

Today was a very long day for our little one. It started when she woke up at 6am and didn't stop until she went to bed at 9pm. The day included a trip with babysitter and the old-folk's home to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, the beach, ice cream, candy, snacks galore, and about everything you'd expect from a babysitting Aunt willing to spoil her.

She was sun-drenched, sand-swept, and tired.

"Wow, I bet you sleep like a rock tonight." I said to her, cuddling her close and loving how soft she was in her pj's. "You must be really tired."

"I am really tired, Mom, but I'm NOT going to sleep like a rock!" She exclaimed.

"You're not? I don't know. You're pretty tired and I think it'll be just like a rock."

She sighed, and I could tell she was getting very exasperated with me for arguing with her. "I'm not going to sleep like a rock." She muttered.

"Oh. Well, why not?" I asked, curious.

"Because then I'd have to sleep outside! It's dark and scary out there!"

"Ahh..." I responded, working hard to stifle laughter. "I've gotcha now. Sleeping outside like a rock..."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Short Person and Taylor Swift

Like most of America, and probably beyond, I've developed an affection for Taylor Swift's song "Love Story", and to a lesser degree "White Horse". I've had them stuck in my head for months now, so I finally caved in and purchased her "Fearless" CD.

I LOVE it!

Unlike so many Cd's that get produced, the entire album is full of songs that are catchy and fun to listen too, so it is no surprise that it became a mainstay in the car's CD player. However, I was a little surprised about how much Short Person caught on and loved the song. She sings it All ThE TiMe.

Since Shortie loved the song so much, I decided to play a recorded version of Taylor Swift singing "Love Story" on the television. It was done during the show Crossroads that Taylor did with Def Leppard. In the show, she has her blond hair hanging loose and a gold dress on.

And it was from this that Short Person developed her first teen idol. It has been "Taylor Swift" everything since that day. Almost non-stop.

I had been really excited to take Short Person to see the new Hannah Montana movie and bribed her with the fact that Taylor had a small part in the movie. We went, we saw, we enjoyed, but more than that, Shortie was still enamored of Taylor. Once the movie concluded she all but begged me to go and buy a poster of Taylor Swift to hang in her room.

We went to Bi-Mart, the only store in this neck of the woods to carry posters, but they didn't have one of Taylor. So, I wound up purchasing a magazine similar to Teen Beat which had an 8-1/2x11 full page photo of her.

When we got home, Short Person took the photo out, grabbed her dad and the thumb tacks from her desk (for her bulletin board), and led LJS into her room. From there, she proceeded to position the photo on her bedroom wall. First, she tried above her bed, then next to her bed, then above her bookshelf, then above her dresser, then above her hope chest-- each time having her dad stick the tacks in and then standing back to survey the placement. Each time deeming it not the right spot. Until finally, she tried it above her CD player. Where finally, it found it's final resting place.

I feel like there should be some profound observation made about the fact that she's only five and this shouldn't happen until... I don't know, ten? But I can't think of an observation. The image I have of her daddy standing back patiently while she tried to find the perfect place is too endearing. I wish I had taken a photo so that I could have more than my memory to share. It was just too cute.

Incidentally, Hannah Montana was wonderful. Probably better than I expected. We bought that CD too.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Short Person the Massage Therepist

In our house, it is imperative to hide the lotion bottle. It's the kind that has a pumper on the top, so that all you have to do is depress the top and gobs of lotion comes out.

I say this because, as much as I love having LJS rub lotion on my back (really, who doesn't love a massage from their main squeeze?), it is an entirely different experience in the hands of a crazy child. A year ago, Short Person witnessed one such honey-pampering event and decided that mom loves nothing more than having piles of lotion rubbed EVERYwhere.

Since then, I've been pretty good about putting the bottle away, which meant high enough that she couldn't see it. Unfortunately, "high enough" meant something different a few months ago, which is how I found myself lying in my office floor while handful after handful of baby lotion found its way onto my back.

So much lotion that an hour later, as LJS and I prepared for bed, I made the comment to him that I had so much lotion on me that I could probably squeeze into anything.

Short Person, who was snuggling down in our bed for a few minutes of quality cuddle time with Daddy, overheard the comment and responded with a lot of gusto for a five-year-old, "Well, Mom, you'd better not try to ska-weez in here!"

LOL... There's probably an argument to be made about how my place is next to Daddy, but luckily for her, I understand needing cuddle time.