Saturday, September 5, 2009

“Dad, can you teach me how to shoot?”

I was writing as usual last night and my son walked into the room, stood there at my side and asked, “Dad, can you teach me how to shoot?”

We shoot with the air rifle but he was talking about “real” guns. He just turned 7, so I promised him I’ll start teaching him soon.
I like guns a lot, no secret there, but I’m not obsessed with them and I try not to force my passion for firearms onto my children.
So, my son knows dad has guns, he’s seen me handle them sometimes when a certain situation required it, some noise or someone at the door late at night, but I don’t purposefully try to make my son like them as much as I do.
I prefer to let him decide for himself as he grows older, make his own choices.
This morning during breakfast I mentioned to my wife the crime I saw on the later news yesterday, a home invasion where both father and son got murdered.
“Yes, we saw it too”. She mentioned that my son was worried about it and asked if she could change the channel.
When news scare kids more than a R rated movie, you know things aren’t ok.
“He was very worried, he said he was going to ask you to teach him how to shoot.”
“Yes, he did” I replied.
Is this the way we live now? A 7 year old boy having to worry about defending himself from criminals that go their merry way, killing people on daily basis.
I’m proud of the son I have. I’m proud that he has 10 times more balls at age 7 than some of the 50 year old sissyifed, politically correct idiots that don’t know what backbone is even if you hit them over the head with it.
Still, I remember when I was a kid, I didn’t worry about that.
When I was 7, or 10, I know I never thought about shooting to save my life. It wasn’t a real concern I had.
This afternoon we were playing “Left for dead “ on the xbox. My son and I were taking turns killing zombies. I thought I’d mention the issue again.
“You know the difference between videogames and shooting for real, do you?”.
He pressed the pause button and looked me in the eyes, as serious as I’ve ever seen him in my life. “Yes dad, I know. This is just a game, its not real. I want to know how to handle real guns, in case bad men ever come here, like it happened to that boy and his dad. If they come here, I’ll kill them”
He’s getting older, that much is clear, but this situation we live in is just taking away from him an innocence he shouldn’t be loosing at such an early age.
Do other boys his age talk like that? Do I influence him?
All I know is that even though I’m sincere about the poverty and such, I’ve always tried to make him feel perfectly safe at home.
Sucks to think I failed.
But on the other hand, how can you avoid it? I mean, every damn day people get murdered here, and they talk about it on the news.
We’ve talked about not watching the news with him around (how crazy is that?!) but still, he’s getting older, watches TV, talks with other boys at school.
Sometimes I feel being brought up like this will make him a tougher person, sometimes I think it’s just not good to live like this, think that way at such a young age.
Times are different for sure. Just hope I’m making the right decisions.



Bones said...

Wow. Just Wow. I REALLY don't want my kids to be forced to think about stuff like that. WAY too much responsibility for a child.

Still, 7 is old enough to begin teaching good safety habits. I had the pleasure of allowing a young girl (with parents permission) of about that age shoot my ruger 10/22 at the range today. Hopefully she learned something about how to handle firearms safely and had some fun. Her dad said he doesn't want them growing up believing the myths about firearms and also how to handle them safely. Nothing to argue about there.

Anonymous said...

Just the fact that you are having the internal discussion regarding your son's loss of innocence says a lot about your character. Young boys have fierce spirits and need to learn how to be men. Trust me, your a good Dad and are raising your son with good values...He will grow up to be a man of honor and character.

Dragunov said...


Another very good and timely article. I just started introducing my daughters (both in their early 20's) to shooting with me at the range. Both seem to favor shooting the AR15 and are doing quite well at it. When they were younger, they never seem to have any interest in guns, but now, as they begin to see society unravel, they are wanting to keep all options on the table as to self protection. In an unrelated matter, I used to date an Argentine gal that had her dad's rifle as her "house" gun in her condo over on Miami Beach. As I recall it was a Czech Mauser in 7x64. I remember thinking her to be a bit overgunned and offered to trade her my spare Smith M39. She could not be dissuaded to do the deal. Is 7x64 a popular caliber down South. It is almost unheard of here.

Jay21 said...

FerFal, you note that you believe you have "failed" in making your son safe at home. WRONG, you have succeded in making him aware of his surroundings and enviornment. I salute you for what you have done, and you son is already becoming a fine young man (early though it may be). Keep it up and train him well. Knowledge is power.

Carrick said...

Hey FerFAL,

Good post.

Young people have the luxury of being able to be many different people (inconsistent, contradictory) without the self-awareness that lends itself to turning that into lingering self-doubt. Recognizing their potential and their courage and helping them harness it, and use it to expand their wisdom and abilities, is what life and parenting seems to be all about (I'm not a parent.)

In the posts that formed the body of your book, one of the passages that gave you a lot of credibility in my eyes, was your description of what a true survivalist is -- that being, someone who thrives in all manifestations of life (particularly in peace, and the dull drudgery of everyday life), and that the notion that SHTF is an opportunity for "real men" to flourish, is false. What lead you to this outlook, I presume, was not a childhood education in the physical dangers of the world, but an childhood that bestowed on you an appreciation for the value of peace and of other human beings. It's that type of experience that makes you a capable adaptable adult, with the emotional and mental fortitude to live through lonely dark and uncertain times.

Its a scary prospect, that your child may not receive that same fundamental education. That instead of having his/her childhood to freely explore their richness of life and dream about the potential to manifest something even better, he/she may have to narrow their vision to the immediate present -- that your child will be preoccupied worrying about the dangers that lurk, instead of daydreaming about the the great things he can create.

Courage and honesty though, inspire kids regardless of the circumstances. This sounds like an awesome opportunity to engage his mind and expand his understanding of the world, more than it is to capitulate and impart some practical knowledge (fire arm use/safety) on him (although it wouldn't hurt.)

He's worried about you and the family not being safe. Does he know how the police department works, and know the police in your community? Does he know why that specific family had that happen (was the family involved with some shady business, were they reckless with their safety/security?) He said he wants to kill them.. does he know how much you've done to become someone who can protect his family (perhaps, unlike that other father), so that your son doesn't have to.

It sounds like he's a little worried that he might have to protect you and the family one day. He might, but not when he's seven. He saw that dead dad, and thinks his protector can't do it. The tough position you're in now, is teaching him why you are a good protector, without teaching him that the only way to protect is with a gun.

The solution isn't to teach him how to physically do that, but how to build a life that is safe -- that protection isn't just about a gun, its about smart life choices, relationships, community, etc. Teach him that because you are a good neighbor, everyone nearby looks out for you and the kids. That because you're a wise person, you work a job that people respect you for and that attracts good people. That because you're a wise husband, you picked a kind/smart wife to help you raise kind/smart kids. That because you aren't superman, you have friends, parents, mentors(priests?) that you can talk with when you unsure or don't see safe (talk about your problems). That because you're a good father, you make it your business to know that your family is physically safe -- and that you learned THAT after, and only because, you first learned how to be a good person.

Carrick said...

And that firstly guns are kind of fun, and target practice can be cool. Its a tool to learn. If you teach him how though, keep in mind that he might think he'll have to use it, and might become more preoccupied w/ protecting the family. Teaching kids gun safety & respect is good, but if you also tell them "no, your job right now is to.... Mine is to be your Dad and protect the family, and when you're a Dad, you can learn how to do that too. Before you learn that, you have to learn how to be a good friend, neighbor, etc etc."

That's a lot of talk. There may be easier ways to dissuade his fears too. Teach him how much the world changes, that when you were a boy things were basically safe, and that when he is a man, they will probably be back to that same place again -- things change, somewhere always has it tough, and that changes too. Kids think their immediate world is permanent, and its easy for them to feel overwhelmed when the immediate feels worrisome. Blah blah blah.. maybe it'd just be a good idea to take him to the TV news station and introduce him to one of the anchors, who can explain why the news only shows the bad stuff and how the world is bigger than that.

When he's satisfied, give him something else to fixate on and direct his energy into.. some hobby, etc. Fear is fuel if you can understand it and find something to put it into.

Sorry to ramble. I just remember being about that age in America during the late80s/90s. The news was all violence and drugs & gangs were the fascination of mainstream culture. From the music I heard and news I saw, I really thought most men died before they became adults. I remember thinking, "I wonder how Dad lived to become grown up. How did he not get shot or die in a car accident or something?" It does a lot when you Dad asks questions, shows you something to assuage those fears, and frees you up to direct that intensity into something productive. He's already started digging into life, help him find the best path to explore it on.

Joseph said...

Pretty amazing conversation from a 7 year old.

FerFAL, you have not failed to keep him safe. He IS safe. But he has become aware of what is outside the safe place, and he wants to keep those things outside.

Anonymous said...

Carrick, I was a teen during that time period, and many of my schoolmates assumed that they wouldn't live to see 30. When a street gang was formed at my (all white and wealthy) high school around 1991, kids battled each other over the right to join. During the Los Angeles riots, my friends carried guns with them everywhere they went. And we were 400 miles north of the riot zone.

I'm not so sure that a 7 year old has the dexterity and coordination to handle anything more serious than an air gun. Firearms safety is always a good idea, but to actually shoot? Maybe Ferfal could have his kid learn martial arts, which is something little kids can do to make themselves feel secure.

Another thing is to watch for manifestations of induced psychosis and willful psychopathy as kids who grow up in situations like that get older. I had that problem-thinking that the crazier and more violent I was, the less people would want to mess with me. Watch for unusually violent play, repeated talk of murder, and a seeming willful uncaring towards the feelings of others. If my parents had noted that when I was younger, I wouldn't have gotten in so much trouble as I got older. But so far that doesn't seem to be the case-he sounds more afraid than anything.

Steve Janoski said...

Hell of a post buddy. Really.

Your son is a product of his environment, and how you've reacted to it. The environment overall is bad, and I'm sure he sees you struggling to ensure safety. It's not a bad thing that he's looking to follow your footsteps.

Bad sign for society? Maybe. But for you son, show's he's got that fighters' heart. Ain't nothin wrong with that. Best of luck

Anonymous said...

It's amazing to me that some comments still tend to promote the values of the life that was before.

They themselves don't get it that things have changed for you and yours and are still changing.

As for your son, he has learned (from you, life, observation) that he too has his role to assume in the family. It is what is needed in that environment, and he had the character to recognize it and to want to do his part.

People can bemoan the fact of lost innocence, lost childhood and all of that. That won't change what you are living in. You are preparing him to survive, and to protect his clan. It's what is needed, given the arena.

Good form.

Anonymous said...

My brother taught his now 17 year old son much the same when it came to hunting. Both he and I love to hunt, but we do not wish to impose our wishes on our children. Too many times, we have seen others treat their children as 'chips off the old block', and the kids rebel against the forced learning. Let them come to their own conclusions.

My brother took his son hunting many times, and it took 6 years before the son asked his Father if HE could kill a deer - no problem with Dad. The son had been shooting for many years, but never live targets - he is now a confirmed hunter.

I will likewise do the same with my young kids - if they don't wish to hunt, no problem. BUT I will insist that if they do not wish to shoot, that they at least be aware of how firearms function, and how to load / unload them, just in case that information is needed in the future.

I am hoping that I can teach them that the firearm is only a tool of the person holding it - evil or goodness does not exist in inanimate objects.

Ferfal, I am truly sorry your children face that type of reality outside - my prayers that they never need to use that knowledge. I believe you are being a responsible parent.


mommasweetums said...

It's funny because my 6 yo daughter has a way with preparing for the future like your son. When we started the garden this year, she wanted to make sure we had enough to can for the year. Then, she is always watching for things she thinks are needed for food storage. We are slowly getting a years supply. Keep up the good fight! You are a blessing to your family and ours. We look forward to reading your ideas and putting them to use. God bless you and your family.