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Parenting Stories: The End of Innocence

Earlier this week, my five-year-old son brought home a picture of a lovely poppy. Or so I thought.

"Oh," I said. "How pretty."

Then I ventured, "Is it a flower?"

"No," he said. "It's a cannonball. Exploding."

This surprised me, since he has always been more of a flora kind of guy than a gun and saber type. But I shrugged it off. He's a boy, after all. Even my dad, who is the gentlest of souls, loved cowboys and all manner of weapons when he was young.

Then yesterday my boy-child pretend shot his sister. Several times. In the head.

I sat him down. We had a talk. No shooting people in this house.

"Can I shoot at other things?" he asked. "Not animals or people?"

I responded that his dad and I would discuss this. I didn't know yet.

More and more it seems I keep hearing that gun play is normal for young boys. It helps them figure out their place in the world and that even if you don't provide them with toy weapons, they will devise them on their own.

Still, I bristle.

Anyone have advice for the first-time mom of a boy?

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