Pun toys — that's what my boys brought home today from Dark Carnival, our neighborhood fantasy book and toy store. The cat-a-pults, in case you are wondering, are $4.50. So are the nun-chucks. You get four nuns for that price. Their hands wave as they fly through the air. The cats look a little alarmed as they're pulted out of the cat-a.
I don't know how long you can play with a toy that's mostly a play on words. So far, it's been thirty minutes. Come to think of it, the pun toys may have quite a long life. After all, my boys find a book called The Bunny Book of Suicides pretty funny and have for a long time. The bloom will not be off the nuns for a while.
Still, I fear that the whole nun thing is going to land us in a lot of trouble. The cat-a-pults worry me a little too. Where we live, people you pass on the street do actually belong to P.E.T.A. A dim view is likely to be taken of pulting even plastic cats into the air.
At times like this I remind myself that my boys don't have a gameboy, an Xbox or a Playstation and the TV went into the garbage about five years ago when a Barney tape got stuck in its VCR slot. I have to let them do something that’s not okay with other parents. In my case, I have achieved this by tolerating weapons. A lot of them. I like to think that my tolerance is what allows me to hold my head up high when I am with parents who indulge their children in other kinds of crap.
My utter capitulation to my boys' love of violence, came gradually. At first, they had to make weapons out of found objects like ski poles and hockey sticks. After a while, I thought it wouldn’t do any harm to permit them access to weapons that were basically ineffectual in the modern world — historical weapons, I guess you’d call them — the kind of thing King Arthur would have used. I figured we’d have to replace fewer pieces of my ski equipment that way. But I firmly drew the line at things with triggers. It was a little irrational, but something about the trigger/bullet combination did not seem right.
And then, one tired day at Toys R Us, I gave up on even that. After all, I thought, what could be so bad about a General Grievous weapon? Yes, it looked a lot like a machine gun, but it had a name other than machine gun, and it was being wielded by some kind of clone alien. And so I said "yes" and our lives entered a new phase because no one believed for a minute that thing was something other than a really wicked machine gun/weapon of major destruction.
Once guns were added to the armory, our per capita weapon ownership put us way in front of pretty much anyone we know. Perhaps this is why no one is ever allowed to come over here for a play date. About two months ago I bought a huge terra cotta pot at IKEA to contain the weapons. I guess I was hoping to domesticate the armory. Not a chance. At best, it looks like we're a gun farm. Anyway, no one puts the weapons away but me. Usually, the guns and stuff just lay around, looking like a battle was fought recently between King Arthur and Anakin Skywalker and they had to go home for dinner before they finished.
The plus side of the mess on our front lawn and porch is that scary men selling magazine subscriptions seldom come to our door — they can't get up on our porch because their way is barred by the litter of light sabers and hockey sticks. Not to mention the pot bristling with machine guns and swords and daggers and bats I’ve recently put away.
I’m not really totally okay with this, but I’m trying. I do insist that two rules be observed, lines I've drawn in the sand between the semi-civilized state of my house and just turning everything over to the Marine Corps for use in combat training. The first is a sort of Wild West rule, the kind a saloonkeeper would post on the swinging wooden door to her establishment: No guns inside. The second rule I just made up a moment ago, on the spot: No one is allowed to point a nun in my direction. Ever.