This past weekend, my husband and I pooled our resources with some friends to have a laser tag birthday party for our sons.
We were looking for something unusual and memorable for this party. We had talked about rock climbing, but decided we wanted our son and his friends to be older before we tried that. Then my husband mentioned laser tag. For this particular group of boys, we couldn't think of a more perfect outing.
And the boys LOVED it. On the way to the place, the group in our car chatted about all sorts of things. On the way home (and for HOURS afterwards) they could only talk about one thing - laser tag. They replayed all their favorite moments, talked about trying to take out the group of "pros" who showed up for the second game, and congratulated themselves on their strategies.
And I was thrilled with the experience. The facility took care of everything - there was a plan to the party, they provided a cake and drinks, and they recorded gifts for each of the boys. I was so proud of how our boys behaved. The boys had an amazing time. It was a great day. When I asked my son to rank the party on a scale of 1 to 10, he said, "A Million!"
But I did have one moment....
It was the first game of tag the boys were playing. It was dark and smoky, and I was watching from an observation spot on the second floor. I watched our boys (every one a student of mine) work their way around the walls, watching for opponents, while a sniper (my husband!) was picking them off from the second floor.
And for a moment it became all too real. I was too aware that there are men and women who are in fire fights like this, but with real bullets and real risk, every day. While our boys could roam around without fear of what was around a corner or hiding above them, in real life, there are soldiers who live with that fear every moment of every day. The mom and the teacher in me was horrified to think of these precious boys in such an awful situation in real life.
Despite my best efforts from the day he was born, my son is fascinated with guns and shooting. No matter how many times I try to tell him that guns and violence are not something to take lightly, this is still his style of play - and the style of play of a number of his peers. It's so not my style - and not what I would choose for him if I could. But I believe this is part of his journey as a man. While there are many ways I can influence his development, this is still going to be a part of him. Boys and girls are different, no matter how much adults might want to believe otherwise. I know in my head that this is just play, but in that moment the play became all too real.
And my first thought was, "I am such a girl."