That was the theme for the birthday celebration we had for E yesterday. Birthdays are a ginormous deal in our house. I love celebrating the lives of the people I care about. We never do a big party. I find nothing wrong with big parties. I am going to one soon for a boy I adore and every year I have a grand time. We just do things differently in our family. For us we let the kids pick a friend and a place they want to go and then we spend the day making a big deal about their lives. We write on their bathroom mirrors, write on the chalk board in our front hallway, and write notes all over pretty much ever surface in our home. E woke up to a giant balloon and beautiful plant by her bedside. I like to prolong the ordeal, so instead of sitting down and unwrapping presents at one time, I hide them throughout the house and then as she goes about her day she will find a treat here and there..
This was her loot. This year she got her first air soft pistol and a pocket knife. She also got a small flashlight to carry with her, but it hasn’t arrived yet. My oldest son thinks this is total bologna as when he was 16 I would not allow him to carry a pocket knife. I told him, yeah, mommy has changed just a tiny bit. I want a knife, a flashlight, a gun, a solid mindset to be natural everyday things in my kids’ lives. Something they have always had or at least something that isn’t brand new to them when they are 40.
We sat down with E and told her the responsibilities of carrying a knife. About not letting it sit around because younger people might get a hold of it, that she can’t have it in school etc. She also got a safe. It’s a small gun safe with a code she got to pick. We talked about never sharing that code with anyone and that a knife was not something to show off to her friends to be cool. We told her that because she has younger siblings in the house it was her responsibility to either have the knife on her person or in the safe. At night when she is sleeping the knife should put in the safe. If at anytime she can’t handle the responsibility we will take the knife from her.
Guess who’s job it is to be sure she is doing the right things? Hers of course and mine and her daddy’s. We need to ask her occasionally, “Where is your knife?” We need to check to be sure it is in the safe, that the safe is locked, and that she is making good choices.The knife is not all that sharp especially compared to the butcher knife in my kitchen, but we are using this tiny little tool to teach her to be responsible.
She spent the day finding reasons to use her knife. When she opened her other presents she wanted to use the knife to cut open the package.When her dad was cutting some tape for her she was mortified that he used the cutter that came on the tape dispenser. She said, “Ugh, dad, use the scissors on my knife.” He just looked at me and smiled like, I know where she gets this from.
The night before when my husband gave me the Gerber tool he used in Iraq, I did the same thing. Except it was late and I couldn’t really find anything to cut, stab, or file, so I asked if I could remove one of his nipples using, either the pliers or the wire cutters, his choice. He figured since he hadn’t lost a nipple in Iraq, he certainly wasn’t going to sacrifice one to an overzealous wife. I suppose that seems reasonable. My point…the girl comes by it honestly.
E is probably the most responsible 9 year old I have ever met. Like her mama, she is a rule follower, Type A(not in everything just what matters to her), very serious, and wants to get things right, but also like her mama, she is not perfect.
As she went about her day finding surprises she eventually came to find her air soft gun. When she opened a cupboard and found the air soft gun, she grabbed it,(still in it’s packaging)ran upstairs and showed me.
Me- E whatcha got there?
E- I think it’s a gun.
Me- What is the rule in our house when we find a gun?
Her face immediately loses it’s smile and she stares at me blankly.
Me- What’s the rule babe?
E- Don’t touch it and find you or dad.
Me- Is there ever an exception to that rule?
Me- Nope. I know it’s your birthday and I know you were expecting to find things and I know you assumed the gun was for you, but the rules are there to keep everyone safe. There is never a time when it is ok to break them. Ok?
E- Ok. Are you mad at me?
Her smile returns.
E- Can we shoot it?
Me- Let’s go.
I set her up. I put the gun in a place I knew was easy to access and I said to my husband, “I wonder if she will touch it or come get us?” She came to get us when she saw the Nerf guns laying on the center island a few months back, but because she was expecting to find things for her, I wasn’t sure if she would just grab the gun or not. She grabbed.
Not a big deal at all. It is why we set up layers upon layers of safety in our house and it is why I continually set up opportunities for my kids to succeed and to fail. Interesting enough our 6 year old son who we have yet to take shooting because the kid will not keep his finger off the Wii gun trigger, saw the air soft gun first, closed the cupboard, came and told me he found a gun and that he did not touch it. Progress.
Back to her day. I made her a special breakfast. We took her to a special lunch at a “cook- in-front-of-you” place also know as Japanese Teppanyaki. We were suppose to go to a local theme park, but the weather called for thunderstorms and her sister wasn’t feeling well, so she graciously agreed to plan B.
For dinner she requested homemade hamburgers and shrimp cocktail.