Gun Violence and Protecting Our Children

After hearing president Obama speak on Sunday night, I initially felt very optimistic and moved. He vowed to use his power to make sure these random acts of mass murder like what happened in Newtown CT on Friday never happened again. But then I looked back at other events like when James Brady was shot protecting President Reagan, and the shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech. And I remembered all the anger and outrage following those events. Everyone was in an uproar, and wanted change. Yet here we are in 2012, and these senseless acts of violence continue to happen.

Maybe I’m a pessimist, but I don’t think this is an problem that can really be “solved”. There are too many contributing factors. Mental illness, bad parenting, bullying, lack of quality mental health care, and of course this countries fascination and love of guns. I supposed we can chip away and make small strides in each of these areas, but I wonder if we will ever see a day when these violent public outbursts no longer exist. The numbers are staggering. 32,000 US deaths from gun violence in 2011. 32,000 people! To put things in perspective, Madison Square Garden in NYC holds about 18,000 people.

I’m almost 40 years old, and I’ve never fired a gun. Sure I’ve shot toy guns, but never the real thing. I’ve fired virtual weapons in video games, and watched countless people get blown away on TV and movies. Yet I’ve never felt the need to squeeze off real rounds from a real gun. So I wonder what compels people to take things from the fantasy world to reality.

I have friends who don’t let their kids play with toy guns. Max has some Nerf guns that fire foam balls and darts. And he likes to shoot water guns over the summer. So after what happened in Newtown, I started questioning whether what was right or wrong. I played cops and robbers and cowboys and indians when I was kid. And had toy guns growing up, and it didn’t make me want to get a real gun when I was an adult. So again, Im left wondering what causes adults to want real guns.

I suspect that it’s like any other vice. Once you get a taste for it, you are hooked. Eventually shooting a handgun becomes mundane, so you want something bigger, that fires more rounds. There are families, where learning how to shoot is a right of passage. It’s been going on for generations. And most of them will never use the guns against another person. They will likely use it for hunting or target shooting. But there is a small percentage that gets obsessed. They may feel inferior and weak, and the guns becomes the great equalizer for them. It gives them the power and control they crave.

If you look at the people who carry out these horrible acts, they all seem to be outcasts. Teased and mocked for being different. It’s not the homecoming queen or the starting quarterback. It’s the quiet kids who don’t quite fit in. The ones who get ignored, left out and forgotten. So while everyone turns their anger towards the NRA, maybe be need to look at ourselves. Maybe we all need to be a little nicer to one another. Teach our kids that making fun of others is not nice. That being different doesn’t make you a freak. And maybe we should all take a little time from our busy schedules to look in on that “weird” neighbor. Maybe if we did more to make everyone feel included, there wouldn’t have so much jealousy and so much anger inside those who aren’t lucky enough to be part of the group.

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Too Cute

Yesterday, Max and I were making “Shrinky Dink” Christmas ornaments. Max wanted to work on the Santa one. He colored in Santa’s hat and beard and then I saw him searching through his art desk for something. When I asked him what he was looking for he said “I need to find some glitter, because Santa has a twinkle in his eye”. So cute and so sweet.

 

I know some day in the not so distant future, Max won’t believe in Santa. He’s already started asking Rachel and I questions about Santa. Like how does he fit down the chimney, are the Santa’s at the store the real Santa? So I’m really enjoying the holiday season this year. It’s so refreshing to see Max get so excited, and acting so curious about Santa. These innocent, sweet years of a child’s life are so precious, I intend to enjoy every moment while they last. 

All I Want For Christmas

ImageAbout a month or so ago, Max noticed two of his teether were loose. At first we thought he was just imagining it or making it up. But when I was helping him brush his teeth, I confirmed his teether were indeed loose. It caught Rachel and I by surprise, because most kids start losing teeth when they are 6. 

         We needed a picture of Max for our Christmas card, and Rachel joked that we needed to do it quick before his bottom teeth fell out. Maybe it was mothers intuition, or maybe just coincidence, but sure enough two days after taking his photo for the Christmas card, he lost his two bottom teeth. Phew, just made it in the nick of time.

         Last Wednesday, my phone rang at work and it was Rachel. She said she had Max on the phone and he had something to tell me. I said hello to him and asked him what was up. He exclaimed “I lost a tooth”. He went to explain that he was eating a granola bar at Nana’s house and his tooth got stuck inside the granola. Later that day while in school, the 2nd tooth came out. 

         Less than 2 weeks after his 5th birthday he lost his first two teeth. I asked his pediatrician about it, and she told me that he may not lose the corresponding top teeth for months. It already looks like we can see the top of the new teeth coming in on the bottom, so he shouldn’t have that gap very long. Hopefully there is enough space for the new teeth to come in and they come in straight. 

             He’s growing up so damn fast, I wish I could a button to make it all slow down.

 

 

Birthday Party

We’ve been invited to a few of Max’s classmates birthday parties, and Max has had a blast at each of them. The last one we went to was at his friend Brody’s house. His parents rented a moonbounce and put it in the back yard. Max and the rest of the kids at the party had a blast. So we decided to have Max’s birthday party at Kids N Motion. It’s local, so it made it convenient for everyone to get to, and we knew it would be right up Max’s alley.

K.I.M. features two party rooms. A birthday party there consists of 45 minutes in the first party room and 45 minutes in the 2nd party room followed by 30 minutes to eat pizza and have cupcakes in the snack room. The first party room had 2 large moon bounces, one with a slide and the second was sports themed.  A total of 11 kids from Max’s class attended, plus Max’s buddy Ziggy from next door.  I can honestly say that I think each of them had a great time. A few of the kids were kind of timid at first, and needed a little coaxing to join in the fun, but once they did, there was no turning back. Luckily the kids parents were all very involved and kept an eye on their kids. And all the kids got a long really well. There was no fighting, and there was enough stuff to do, that the kids weren’t arguing about who got to do what.

After the first 45 minutes, we moved to the 2nd party room. The kids were looked pretty red in the face and tired. A lot of them sort of gravitated towards the gym area, where they had balance beams, a rock climbing wall and the crown favorite, which was the hollow, padded tube that they could get inside of. All the kids wanted to do it, so we had them line up and take turns. One by one they took turns getting inside the tube. Then we would gently push the tube once they were inside, and they would roll down this little padded ramp. To me it looked like being inside of a clothes dryer, but the kids all seemed to love it. Eventually after they all got a few turns, they scattered and made there way out to the main playroom area. The obstacle course was a favorite for everyone except for Max’s buddy Ziggy, who got stuck inside hehe.

At one point, Ziggy’s Mom walked up to Rachel and I and asked if we knew where he was. We hadn’t seen him, so we started looking around. Then one of the kids came out of the obstacle course and said there was someone stuck inside. We sent Max and Brody in to see who it was and it turned out to be Ziggy. Luckily Max and Brody were able to boost Ziggy over the wall that was preventing him from advancing and he made his way out.

By the time we left the 2nd party room, all of the kids were pretty exhausted. They cleaned up a bit, and then headed to the snack area to eat pizza and eat cupcakes. The kids all say nicely while they snacked which was amazing to me. I figured they would be bouncing off the walls, but they all sat pretty quietly. They had this big inflatable chair that Max got to sit in while everyone sang happy birthday to him. He jumped the gun a bit and blew the candles out before they finished singing, but he was so excited, I could hardly blame him.

On the ride home, Max declared “Best Birthday Ever”, which made it that much more special. The bar has been set pretty high, so I have no idea how we will top this for next year. I’m thinking skydiving or running with the bulls in Pamplona!

Happy 5th Birthday Max!