Open hearts lead to open minds.
I say this often but usually am referring to expanding social and cultural horizons through a personal connection.
Today I’m profoundly grateful for opening my mind enough to participate and enjoy something new.
This afternoon I held a laser gun. And I pulled the trigger.
To understand what a paradigm shift this is for me, you should know I was one of “those” mothers who refused to allow even Nerf guns into the house. The implied act of violence, even if the ordinance was made of foam was appalling to me.
My children didn’t have water guns. We had ‘water squirters’ that were shaped like fish and googly-eyed dolphins. My daughter didn’t seem to miss the firearms but my son used sticks and LEGOs for armaments and I usually tried to redirect his play.
Utter disdain for weaponry was not cultivated in my youth. I grew up in Texas dating young men who were religious about their right to hunt. My father was career Air Force and I have tremendous respect for those carry a weapon in the service of our country.
Truly, it was living in Littleton, Colorado on April 20, 1999 that drew a solid line for me between children and guns. It was walking my infant daughter around Clement Park exactly two years following the shooting that made me consider ways to shield her from the ugliness of the world. It was a series of consecutive school shootings here and abroad that made me want to place both my children as far away from what I felt was a culture of gun violence.
In recent years, as my son has experienced sharpshooting at summer camp and made friends whose families hunt, I’ve felt I may have moved too far to one side. After all, my children seemed to be the only ones without SuperSoakers. My son was the only one who used Nerf bullets on the trees during playdates because he had been indoctrinated that he wasn’t allowed to aim at living things.
More than once in the past few years, I have thought perhaps I should have advocated gun safety instead of gun obliviousness.
Six weeks ago, my son asked to have his birthday party at Laser Quest.
I made the reservation, with some reservations but today I opened my mind and took a huge leap into a recreational game that I had vilified.
When I entered the fray with my laser light sensors, laser gun and 28 others under the black lights and fog machines, I was truly surprised at how much fun I had. I was truly surprised at how I was able to differentiate the activity as play.
I aimed, I shot, I giggled.
More than once I stomped my feet at some child from either our or the adjoining party and said, “Stop shooting me, you already got me!” Every time I was hit, I let out a sharp shriek followed by a laugh.
To laugh in the face of a laser gun was shocking and liberating. I loosened up. I took a chance.
And no one was hurt.
An open mind allowed me to fully participate in my son’s birthday party, to share laughter with him, his friends and my husband and daughter.
And I am grateful.