Subliminal Offense, Maybe?

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Gratitude is one of the greater lessons, save for love, that’s taught in our home. My husband and I make daily purposeful attempts at expressing grateful lifestyles in front our children. Our first duty of every morning is floor exercise–bending our knees in a prayer of thanks to the Almighty for another opportunity to approach life appropriately. The remainder of the day, if successful, should yield a positive report on our show of gratefulness at our places of employment, school, church, home, and etc. However, falling short most times is inevitable. The continual effort is what exercises the heart.

A few days ago, we had a visit from a neighbor who’s been totally taken with our boys from first sight. Whenever she sees them, her adoration and display of emotion for them goes from zero to ten, quickly! Hugs and high fives are just a few of the weapons from her arsenal of affection for them. Although they’re not allowed to spend time with her alone and my husband and I aren’t personal friends of hers, they’re very fond of her kindness as well.

This particular visit, she came by with a surprise she’d promised the kids from an earlier visit. She knocked on the door, and as usual, the kids greeted her by name with excitement. “I have a surprise for you”, she whispered gleefully, as she welcomed herself in. The boys ran towards the bag in her hand and awaited the surprise. She took out the surprise–one for each of them, and handed it to them. Having no idea what was just handed to them and how to get it open, they immediately turned to me and placed the surprises in my hand for opening. I must have been having a moment of naiveté, because I immediately began opening the gifts to give them to the children without first investigating. While doing so, she nudged me goodbye and slipped back out the door. It wasn’t until I completely opened the first surprise, with my son earnestly waiting to get his cute little hands on it, that I got a nice surprise of my own. It was a toy gun. At the sight of it, I felt like a black hole opened up underneath me and sucked all of my happy away at that moment. I was lost for words, disappointed, and pissed all in the same emotion.

Photo: wintersixfour Gun Subliminal Offense, Maybe? file4821275686422 510x340
Not for my kids! Photo: wintersixfour

“Why, why, why, would this woman purchase guns for my boys to play with? What was she thinking? How dare she force the responsibility on me of having to explain guns are bad to my babies. They’re only three and two! She knows guns are inappropriate gifts.  She should know better than that!”, were the thoughts swirling around in my head.

Immediately, I snatched the other gun away from my baby son, hid them on top of the refrigerator, collected myself, and prepared to disappoint my boys. While looking into their cute little innocent eyes, I was searching every part of my logic to form an acceptable explanation as to why they won’t be playing with those toys or any toys of the such.

Guns send a subliminal message that life is dispensable…worthless. With just a tug on a trigger, any human being can be rendered breathless. Whether it’s a bubble gun, water gun, cap gun or BB gun, the message behind the fun is your life has no value on the other side of this weapon. For years, conspiracy theorists have argued that the government intentionally marketed toy guns to children to awaken their killer instincts and prepare them mentally for war. I’m confused as to why parents are still purchasing them for their children.

According to today’s American standard, my boys already have three strikes against them–black, male, and unarmed. There’s no way in hades I will ever put a gun in their hands.

Later that afternoon, the neighbor came back by to see how the boys were enjoying their surprises. With as much politeness as I could muster up, I told her, “Thank you, but we don’t allow our children to play with guns. They’re too small and the idea of a child playing with a gun, whether it be a toy or not, is inappropriate to me”. She smiled with offense and lightly apologized by admitting she didn’t think anything of it and it just seemed like a toy both boys would enjoy. We tried to move past that conversation to something else but I could tell my rejection of the toys offended her. I really didn’t care either. I’m from the old school of thought. Let the adults be adults and the children be children.

I threw the guns in the trash.

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Naomi C. Kellogg

Naomi is an emerging screenwriter and novelist who writes fiction, nonfiction, and dramas. She’s written for a national magazine, run a blog, and headed the communications department for a 501c3 corporation. Naomi is actively completing a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts and is a member of the Nation Council of Negro Women (NCNW), St. Petersburg Chapter, where she hopes to inspire young African-American women who aspire to write.

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