Can we get through a single day without one of my kids throwing a toy truck at the other one? It’s amazing what my kids can turn into a weapon. You’d think a bubble maker would be pretty benign, but if I leave the kids alone on the porch with a small bubble maker, one of them will get water-boarded by the other. And my daughter thinks the only way her fairy princess wand will work is if she puts her entire body behind it. She’s like a ninja with that thing.
It reminds me of the intense “Chinese throwing star and nunchucks” phase I went through as a kid. I have no idea why my mother thought it would be a good idea to let a 10 year old have half a dozen pointy metal discs forged with the singular purpose of killing people from a distance. I didn’t question her decision at the time, but now that I have kids of my own, I’m a little suspect. Of course, this was before safety was a real concern. Apparently, kids raised in previous decades never got hurt. How else can you explain our lack of bicycle helmets and seat belts? And yet most of us survived somehow. It was probably all the hairspray we used back then. All that puffy, crusty hair was like walking around with an airbag on your head.
Looking back, it seems a little strange to go through a “throwing star” phase. I can’t imagine my kids getting into that sort of thing. But all Southern boys growing up in the ‘80s went through this phase. Like every other kid I knew, I spent a lot of time in the knife shop while my mom browsed the consignment store next door. It was inevitable that I’d come out of that shop with something sharp I could throw at other people.
Basically, childhood for me was just a series of weapons-based phases. A few other notable phases: bow and arrow phase. Homemade slingshot phase. Poison dart gun phase. Throwing pinecones at other people’s faces phase. Booby trap phase. The list goes on. It’s the result of the laissez faire parenting techniques of the time. A lot of people look back on the fact that our parents simply opened their back doors and made us go play outside as a sort of idyllic period in history. In a lot of ways it was—Last Child in the Woods and all that crap—but the truth is, we just spent most of that outside time trying to figure out different ways to maim each other with the tools at hand. We didn’t want to kill anyone, but if we could cause serious injury without getting into trouble, then we were game.
So maybe a nation full of video game children isn’t so bad after all. The first person shooter games may be disturbing, but at least they’re not literally playing war like we did, fastening makeshift bayonets to our toy guns and loading our backpacks with grenades (heavy rocks). You don’t know darkness until you trap your best friend in a ditch and pepper him with rocks and pinecones. But we weren’t fat, so we had that going for us.