Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What, you don't have an AK-47 on your woodstove?

This Quaker parent never thought she'd have a son who was so intrigued by knives and guns. It's the woodsman in him. He does a little blacksmithing in a forge he built himself, and has made some of his own knives. He also has several machetes, a kukri he bought from a company in Tibet, and a old bayonet. He is at his happiest working at the anvil, using the angle grinder to edge a sword, or chopping his way through the woods. Recently, he presented a well-considered argument for purchasing an Airsoft pellet rifle, assuring me that he would be shooting only at targets and never at animals. I don't worry about that, actually. When I  discovered last week that a mouse had found its way inside, I set a trap and heard it go off that evening. The conversation:
Me: "Uh oh, I think I just caught the mouse.  But I can't check because it might not be dead yet."
Son: "Mom, you have to check because it might not be dead yet."
Me: "I know, but I just can't." He got up and pulled out the trap, and studied the mouse for a moment.
Son: "Aw, sad face."  And then asked if he could put the little body in the woods rather than the trash.

In the meantime, I am caused to marvel at how you might teach your children your values, but ultimately they must walk their own path. He's a sensitive kid and opposed to violence, and even generally sticks to a vegetarian diet even when away from home. But he likes building the skills he thinks he would need to be self-sufficient. He likes being competent with knives and guns. In this way, he and my friend are two peas in a pod. He is interested in my son's knives and even bought him the angle grinder. When he was over not long ago, I asked if he wanted to see my son's Airsoft rifle.  He picked it up and said, "It's an AK-47!  Jesus!" And then proceeded to explain the features of the gun to me and why it was an extremely realistic copy, and even shot some pellets into the ottoman. How did this pacifist end up with two weapon-enthusiasts in her life?

48 comments:

  1. LOL! At least they're harmless weapon-enthusiasts. I think it's kinda cool how your son is into some of these things (like the smithing).

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    1. I think it's cook, too - I love how he will learn how to do anything that interests him.

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  2. I had no idea you were Quaker! A friend of mine here in Philly teaches at a Quaker High School and LOVES it! He says it's the BEST school he's ever taught at because of the wonderful values that Quakers have. They're very open, peace-loving and just all around great people!

    And in reading this post, I can see that through the compassion in both you and your son.

    I used to be very afraid of guns, until I went to a gun range with someone I worked with and actually shot several different kinds of guns, just to see what it felt like because I had never even held a gun in my hand before. And I'm glad I did because I actually enjoyed it and now know how to use one competently.

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    1. I found Quakerism well into my adult life, but it was a perfect fit for me. And what a lovely flattering description of us! Thanks!

      I took a gun safety course once and also shot a couple of guns as a teen when I was visiting an aunt in Texas. I'm not exactly afraid of them, just not a gun person.

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  3. haha...because they walk their own paths....and just because you appreciate weapons does not make you a bad person...its who you shoot with them....smiles...while i abhor violence...i have taught both my boys 8 & 10 how to shoot...in a controled enviroment...

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    1. I didn't even suggest that appreciating weapons makes someone a bad person. But I also don't believe it's who you shoot with. It's what you use the weapons for.

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  4. guys are different than women. that is such a generalization, i know, and certainly with exceptions, but the things and activities that intrigue and call to men are often different and this strikes me as a good example,

    your son is such a competent and caring boy, he will do you proud, cs, for all your life. and on a desert island, he would make his way.

    competence. you've given that along side love.


    kj

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    1. I don't buy that it's simply a gender difference. My ex was not interested in weapons, nor is my older son. Nor are many of my male friends. And I know female hunters. I think it has more to do with particular personalities. I'm not worried about my son, and he has already made me proud.

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    2. cs, i think research would bear me out that many many more men than women are interested in guns and cars and who knows, maybe bowling too :^) absolutely i did not mean to imply or hint that there is any reason whatsoever to be worried about your son. i know you are proud of him, of course! i was just noting that he will give you reason to be proud of him throughout your life.

      'kay?

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    3. I know the research and I understand the role of testosterone. I'm saying it's too simplistic to chalk this up to gender. But maybe if you lived in a part of the country where guns are ubiquitous, you'd see it differently. I can't tell you how many of my female patients are gun enthusiasts, have carry permits, have shown me in session the guns they have stashed in their purses or tell me about the guns in the gloveboxes of their cars. I was talking in this post about how he is not like me (or his father or brother, or even grandfathers and uncles) in this way.

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  5. I always admire people who are skilled at crafting something useful from raw materials. I aspire to have the patience such things require.

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    1. I think this is where interest comes in. If it is something you are passionate about, patience is just part of it. I don't know that I''d have the patience to forge, because it doesn't draw me, but I have endless patience when I'm gardening and cooking. If that's really patience?

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  6. I think it is good that your son has this particular interest to be proficient with things that he thinks he might need when he is self sufficient. At least he is thinking ahead to those days when he will be responsible for himself (i.e., an adult). And it looks like he is doing it with safety precautions in mind too. And any son that will take care of a mouse from a trap like that is truly a good son in my books!

    betty

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    1. He is definitely a good son! And I think he will be more than ready to go his own way when it's time.

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  7. I'm so glad guns are not freely available her, they frighten the bejebus out of me. It's good that your son's interest in them is for self sufficiency only. :)

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    1. That should read 'here' not 'her' of course.

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    2. It's just so common here. I'd like to see tighter restrictions on the sorts of guns you can buy - there's no call for anyone to own automatic weapons.

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  8. As you said, your son's interest in guns is related to his desire for being equipped to be self sufficient......so nothing to worry about. Besides, such is our world that pacifists sometimes need strong defenders next to them.

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    1. I'm not worried - never have been with him.

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  9. Maybe seeing that on the fireplace would scare away any would-be intruders?

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    1. Ha! There's a thought. Maybe I should have more realistic pellet guns lying around.

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  10. Actual cottage conversation:

    He - there's a mouse in the trap.
    Me - well throw it out.
    He - I can't, it's not dead.
    Me - well kill it.
    He - I can't, it's not dead!

    So I took a pair of gardening gloves and twisted its poor little neck, and told him, "Always remember I can do that without a qualm".

    Though I admit to crying the first couple of times the traps worked. Got over it really quickly though.

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    1. If I'm alone, I can handle it without a problem. Once I had to break a squirrel's neck after it got hit by a car and was flopping around.

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  11. It sounds like Son is preparing for a post oil world. Good for him.

    XO
    WWW

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  12. It must be difficult sometimes letting your kids go their own way when it so goes against your own grain. I must say I'd feel extremely uncomfortable with any sort of gun lying around the house.

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    1. It's a pellet gun. With plastic BBs. Not exactly a lethal weapon!

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  13. When I was living in a different place years ago, I found out that there was a mouse living in my apartment, dining on my cat's dry food. I had a live trap set up, but I was still afraid to check it each morning. I did catch the mouse and put it outside where it promptly ran back towards the apartment building and probably found somewhere else to live.

    My brother's into hunting and fishing. I found his weapons one day when I was watching their house when they were on vacation. I found guns and really cool-looking crossbows.

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    1. I caught one mouse (and released him a mile away) with a no-kill trap. The next mouse figured out how to enter it, grab the bait and leave unscathed. So I switched to a conventional trap.

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  14. Living in a culture where we don't have guns at the ready, it seems very dangerous to me to have them lying around.
    The little mouse was probably better off being swiftly despatched in a trap. I would probably have put down poison.
    We have to make some hard choices at times.

    This is the first time I've been able to get onto you blog for ages!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

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    1. Again, it's a pellet gun - like a BB gun with plastic BBs. You can't kill someone with it. We have no real guns in this household.

      I don't do poison because it's slow painful death as opposed to the quick death of a wire trap.

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  15. oh the irony of life!

    we had the airsoft debate in our house too. given that the intent was to have them so he could go around with friends shooting each other i said no. it was not a popular decision around here. in addition to just being absolutely against an activity where shooting at other people with a realistic looking weapon is considered "play" my reasoning was that since my husband, older daughter, and son all hunt to put meat on the table for us i did not want any activity that might a real weapon seem less than deadly or might desensitize my son, who was 13 at the time, to that power. no way, not when we have real rifles in the house because of hunting.

    that said, you and your son have a very different set of circumstances and intended use for the airsoft so it makes sense to allow it. (as an aside i think it is so impressive how he has trained himself in blacksmithing)

    and yet more irony....the vegetarian quaker has an airsoft.... the hunters do not.

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    1. That is very, very funny. And I'd have said a definite no in that situation, too. I don't think agree that shooting each other with realistic weapons desensitizes you to the very serious consequences of real weapons. As part of his argument, my son even told me that he would not use it when the boys next door were out in their yard.

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  16. We had the debate in our family when our kids were young. Guns or no guns as toys? I didn't think they should play with guns-I am generally a nonviolent person and guns should be taken seriously not as playthings. Husband is a hunter, and my dad was a hunter, a gun safety instructor and collector. I won the debate. But our youngest son always loved guns, and was intrigued by them. For his birthday, after he became an adult, his sister gave him a soft pellet gun "Because you never got those guns you always wanted". Our daughter worked with some "survivalists" who had a real AK47--which she shot.
    I don't get the fascination with them, but I greatly admire your willingness to support your son's interest. He is quite an independent thinking guy-and the one I'd want around in the next super storm.

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    1. And he's almost 16. I've never let him have toy guns as a younger kid for playing. In part, this decision was a reward fro his years of responsibility and industriousness.

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  17. It's hard to comprehend, until you realize that you've been busy sharpening your vocabulary and lyrical sense, and all of that can be used for seditious purposes. I guess it ain't the weapon, it's the motive.

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    1. And the motive was pure, so that made the decision for me.

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  18. we dont have guns here and they are also not easily available. i've shot at a shooting range before but it didn't interest me.
    on the other hand, i like knives and swords. it's a tool i can't live without.
    agreed with Murr - it ain't the weapon, it's the motive.

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    1. Guns are readily available here, in every pawn shop, o Craig's list and all the sports stores and even WalMart. But not in my house - this isn't a real gun.

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  19. The AK-47 is a Marvel of firearm technology!
    It's simple, dependable, and VERY durable.
    It's no wonder he is fascinated by it's utilitarian design.
    Kalashnikov would be proud!

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    1. He liked the design of it, that it has a wooden stock. He refinished the wooden parts. And he also said he liked that it was modeled on a gun with god reliability.

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  20. would you care if he took up hunting? It probably would be be a surprise if he is mostly a vegetarian but I think if you eat what you shoot it's fine.
    I must say the comment section is very interesting on this post.

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    1. I'd care. I wouldn't try to stop him (once he's an adult) but I still wouldn't like it. I'm not a fan of killing mammals, period.

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  21. They need your influence. At least until the zombie apocalypse. :)

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  22. I think you could find my mother in law writing a post like this about her son and daughter if there had been blogging 50 years ago. I think being self-sufficient is a good thing.

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