Guns.. Violence.. Death

Mumma, Policemen gun se other people ko kyoin maarte hein?

She asked me as we were driving home in the evening, day before yesterday. To say I was shocked by the question would be an understatement. My instant reaction was,

Who told you that?

Wrong way to go, I know, but that is what came out of my mouth.

There is this boy who joined Buzz’s class early this year. He is crazy about Superheroes, is always dressed in T-shirts with one or the other of them, has an Ironman backpack, had Superheroes as a theme for his recently over birthday party. Kids’ birthdays in Buzz’s school are very low key. The parents of the birthday kid get cake/cupcake, some juice or milk for the kids. All kids ask the birthday kid questions about his/her birthday, sing the birthday song, eat the special treat and it is done. This kid’s birthday was the first time they got a goody bag at school and it was ‘Superhero’ picture book. Once the goody bag is in the hands of the kids it is very difficult to get them out. The goody bags were opened and only then did the teachers realized what was in them. Since most kids did not know who the people on the picture book was, they asked questions and the teachers answered as much as they could, talking about the positives of a Superhero. That evening on our way home, Buzz told me she did not like the big giant guy in the green (The hulk). Having too many picture books, she was not too keen on another one so kept it aside and forgot all about it.

Last week after the Mother’s day celebration at Buzz’s school since I was out of work already and it did not make sense for me to head to work and come back to pick Buzz in another hour, I figured I would take her to the nearby park. Most moms were of the same mindset and so we all drove to the park. While the kids all played together, the moms got talking. Most moms of boys were worried because they were coming home and saying things like:

I will gun you down. I will cut you up.

These are little kids and them mouthing things like that is a shock to every parent. There has been a talk with the teachers and I know action is being taken at school.

To Buzz a Policeman is a very nice person. They help protect us, they enforce rules and regulations, they keep us safe. It has been drummed in to her that if something goes wrong she has to go to the police. To suddenly be told that they actually kill people was too much for her to understand. The thing that complicates it all is that Buzz knows what death is. She has seen her Nani be sick and pass away. She knows that Nani is never coming back. She looks at other kids play with their grandmas and asks questions around what happened to both of hers. Where they are, what happened to them are very common questions in our house. One day she started crying, because she thought D and I would die too and would leave Buzz and Bugz behind. Death and the void that it leaves is something she understands in her own child like way.

The same day as I was cutting vegetables for dinner she told me,

Knife se stab kar sakte hein.

Since I have always told her knife can hurt which is why only adults can use them to cut vegetables and fruits, and even adults have to be very careful while using them; I carried forward from there, talking about how hurting others is never a good thing, be it guns or knives or any other thing.

Looking back I regret not dealing with the gun issue when it first came up. I still don’t have the correct answer. I know the issue has come up a bit too early for the kids and in response the parents in her class and they are too young in their understanding of such things to deal with them well. But now that it is here, it can’t be taken back. While I search for ways to figure this issue, if any of you have any ideas please please do drop a line. Would really appreciate any help I can get.

22 thoughts on “Guns.. Violence.. Death

  1. I don’t know if this would be of any help but what I feel is to be honest with kids. May be you can start with some basic US law and punishments if it is not too much for her and then talk about guns and licences. I don’t know is it the right age to talk about it but she may get diverted and also gets to learn stuffs. Not sure though if it would help.

  2. Oh wow…. it is only during times like these that the realisation really hits as to how different an adult’s world is from a child’s perception. How careful you need to be while handling them.

    Hmm I am not experienced in dealing with this kind of thing but would it help if you said: “Sometimes there are bad people (whatever definition you have given Buzz earlier about thieves or robbers etc.) who do bad things. And policemen are people who make sure good people are not harmed in the process.” Something like that? No, sounds too heavy isn’t it?

  3. She asked in cute manner and reasonable question that need sensitive handling. Perhaps, you were right in the start and better to discuss before replying to her queries. It’s tough and some parents may say, yeh badmaash hai:) before giving an accurate answer.

  4. Would telling her the old Indian stories about good and evil help? where in the policeman can be the good guy.. They should learn someday that every thing in life has two sides and its our decision to choose which side we want to be. Gun is a general property which can be used by anyone. Its upto us to decide how to use it. As a good property or as a bad property… Show her that every property can be used in many ways. No property is bad by itself but its only the way it is used makes it good or bad.. And its always better to be on the good side so that we don’t hurt others and their feelings..

    too much explanation for her age is it? probably you can add some more colors to it, spin a related story like RM and pass on the message?

    1. Ani, thank you so much for writing this. This is what I am trying to do, explain grey to Buzz and not black and whites. It is hard for now but we will get there. 🙂

  5. Well written post Comfy, except that I don’t have answers to them. I usually try to talk the truth and facts in a language Chucky understands, so far I have not got these questions, but they learn a lot of things at school both good and bad. I hope we can bring up these little kids with out exposing them to any violence but in reality we cannot..

  6. I’ve been asked this question, whilst in a different way. ‘Mamma log ek doosre ko maarte kyun hai? Fight karna buri baat hai na?’ Well I’m glad atleast the second part remained with him. 🙂
    Yes, it is important to tell our kids that in this world ‘kuch log bure hote hain aur kuch log acche hote hain’. Not just the policemen, but even regular people are supposed to fight bad people in their own way.
    I’ve told him that guns, knives and any such dangerous stuff is not to be used by children. He does not know death, but I’ve told him ‘logo ko bhagwan bula lete hain’ and he’s satisfied with that answer for now.
    It is better if teachers talk to kids about this. It always works better.

  7. Wow, sounds scary comfy. Hugs first. I dont know how to deal with it either but buzz always sounds like a understanding gal, so I am sure when you have the talk with her, she will change her thoughts.
    Its so tough to protect kids from these things these days. 😦

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