I finally did it, I finally had the gun discussion with Annika the other day. We talked about real guns and what to do if she ever sees one.
She asked me how guns work one morning over breakfast (she had watched a cartoon the day before that had a gun.) And so I jumped on the discussion that had been in the back of my mind since mid-January.
It took me about a month after the shootings in Newtown at Sandy Hook Elementary to come to the conclusion that the best lesson I could take away from the horrendous act was to teach my daughter about guns.
Honestly, I never thought about discussing guns with her at the young age of 4 and a half. We’ve discussed body parts and privacy. We’ve had discussions about strangers, but guns weren’t on my radar. It’s not something I thought I’d need to shelter her from at such a young age.
The only discussion we’ve ever really had about guns is that we don’t point toy guns at people. Until a few days ago, I’ve never told her that real guns kill people and that death is forever. The only death she’s dealt with so far is the death of our dog (who lived with Toyin) and she is still very sad about that. But she also thought for a while that he would “come back alive.”
During our discussion, I told her that guns are dangerous. I purposely left out the word “scary” during our discussion. I want her to know that guns are dangerous. But I worry that if she’s scared, she would freeze up if she ever saw one.
Very matter-of-factually, I told her three specific things:
- Guns are not to be played with.
- If you ever see one, run away and go tell a grown up.
- Never touch it.
And then I did an image search on Google for guns and showed her a few.
I pointed out a pistol.
And for the semi-automatic, I just told her that, that gun was the most dangerous and could shoot a lot of bullets really fast.
I wondered if I was giving her too much information. Perhaps some of the details slipped on by and didn’t sink in.
I wonder if I’ve added to her anxiety about life. I definitely didn’t tell her that there was a shooting at a school, nor did I give her any indication that it could happen to her anywhere.
But I have to admit, I feel better that we’ve discussed it. And I feel worse because we had to discuss it.