Play Date at the O.K. Corral


This morning, our third day at the O.K. Corral, I figured out how to explain the explosive gunfire sounds bouncing off our front porch to terrified two-year old Daughter.

A little background: Our house is situated on open space of heavily wooded terrain. At the end of our street is a large reservoir and dam. At the base of the dam is a deep gorge in the woods. Our local police department has decided it’s the perfect spot for their yearly weapons training. We get pistols in the Spring, rifles and rapid fire automatic weapons in the Fall. (Why our little town of 9,000 residents needs such protection is still a question for me. One of our biggest crimes of the last few years was an eccentric (and high) genius blowing up Porto potties at the base of trail heads.)

Anyway, I’ve taken my seasonal distress all the way up to the Chief of Police (“It wakes my daughter up from her nap!”) so there’s not much more for me to do than live with the disturbance and help my children cope with the awful sound. But how?

Four year old Son isn’t phased by it. Daughter is alarmed and frightened. When we heard the first blasts Monday morning at eight a.m. I went down the route of rational explanation.

“Well, honey, the police practice using their guns to keep us safe. They are down in the gorge at the base of the dam. You know the dam where the pretty water falls?” This was the “It’s all good” approach. Problem was, the idea of guns scared her more. I have no idea where she might have heard or learned of them, but they scared her.

She talked about “the guns” all day and didn’t go to sleep until 10:30. I asked Husband, “What was I supposed to tell her?” His answer, “You don’t know what it is.”

I’m trying to be open and honest with my kids. But, the truth is there’s probably a time when age dictates a certain fuzziness of facts.

So, yesterday morning as we all climbed into the minivan amidst the staccato burst of rifle fire and when she said, “Where are the guns?” I announced, “They’re not guns, they’re…. firepops!”

Firepops?” She was intrigued. Conjured images of Popsicle, maybe lollipop, she couldn’t put her finger on it but it didn’t sound all that bad. “What are firepops?”

“The boom boom boom sound.”

“Okay.” Sold.

This morning in the minivan Daughter proclaimed: “Mommy, I love firepops.”

Son: “Mommy, can I have one of those firepop Popsicles one day?”

“Sure, but they’re kind of spicy.”

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