Who among us of a certain generation didn’t wile away a few afternoons playing cops and robbers OR cowboys and Indians? Of course, today’s children–if they are allowed to own a toy gun–are more likely to play Corrupt Civil Servants in Blue vs. Wealth Adjustment Practitioners (Alleged) OR Euro-Trash Interlopers vs. Indigineous Peoples of the Americas.
But all that PC hullabaloo is another matter. This is not a political post.
Instead, consider the simpler time of A Christmas Story‘s Ralphie Parker of You’ll shoot your eye out fame…or your own childhood, or your children’s…
When my three boys were little, there was always that occasional friend who didn’t have a toy gun when imaginations ran wild. It didn’t stop the kid from playing though, as a stick, a toy golf club, a plastic bat, or any such implement could double as a gun in a pinch.
Of course, it was plain obvious that the child had toy gun-envy, and usually, some other kid would acquiesce and take a turn shooting the stick, so the boy whose mother was anti-toy gun could actually enjoy a few stolen moments of a childhood well lived.
Fast forward to the present day and the more things change the more they stay the same.
My husband Paul and I were invited to a relative’s 4th birthday celebration last week. It was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle party–characters who have enjoyed a long run of popularity since 1984. And, they carry weapons.
Figuring everyone would be bringing TMNT toys, I bought a Thomas the Tank Engine mini race track and it was wrapped and set to go. But when the day of the party came, my husband surprised me. Completely.
He had seen a toy fart-gun in a discount store and purchased it for the birthday boy. He came home and wrapped it all by himself. (Both of these behaviors are completely out of character for him.) When he told me what he had done, he was as joyful as a kid himself.
And then a glower of worry crossed his face. “What if the birthday boy’s mother gets mad about the farting part of the gun?”
I thought about it for a minute. She could get mad about the farts…I’d never actually heard her tell a dirty joke or revel in the surprise Horton Hears a Poo air biscuit-but she did marry into this family, I figured. She was well aware of our predilection for a good bathroom joke and our ill-timed gastrointestinal issues.
“I don’t know,” I waffled, not wanting to upset extended-family dynamics, but also not wanting to be a Grinch about my husband’s rare moment of gift-purchasing enthusiasm.
“How about if I don’t sign my name to it?” Paul asked. “I’ll just slip it into the pile of gifts?”
“Great idea,” I said. I love it when a plan comes together. So off we went, gifts in hand.
Later, as the party was wrapping up with the unwrapping of gifts, all manner of expensive toys were well-received by the birthday boy. And then one of the last gifts, some kind of giant action figure that shoots missiles absolutely thrilled the birthday boy–his mother? Not so thrilled. A bit flushed, in fact, when her side of the family began laughing heartily at her for banning weapon-related gifts.
WTH? Apparently, there had been a NO WEAPONS clause?
My husband and I just looked at each other. Uh-oh.
There were two toys left to unwrap. The first of the last, our Thomas the Tank Engine was happily accepted–not with as much glee as the missile launcher, but hey, who could blame the kid? That was pretty cool.
And then the final toy was unwrapped. The Fart Gun.
The birthday boy was beyond tickled with joy. Like a mini-Ralphie Parker from Christmas Story when his beloved Red Ryder BB gun was finally in his arms.
And when the Birthday Boy realized the gun made all manner of fart noises, his glee became positively palpable. He ran about the room shooting party-goers with a weapon that replicated the auditory component of every type of fart known to humankind.
All of the adults in the room laughed and asked one another, “Who did it? Who gave him the gun? Nobody’s claiming it?
Nope. Nobody did.
Instead, Paul and I just sat there and watched a little boy and his five-dollar fart-gun having the time of his life–and that made us feel a whole lot like Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Thanks for reading! Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!
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