There’s a certain point in the journey of being a father when you look around at other dads and realize that however hard you try, you really just cannot offer all possible experiences to your children. Like everyone, I’m good at some things, really excellent at some things, and pretty poor at others. And there are still other experiences that I just have zero interest in doing, like skydiving.
Living on a 16-acre farm part of the time, my children get the benefit of two different worlds. It’s City Mouse, Country Mouse every week, where I’ll take them into urban areas for museums, galleries, foodie restaurants, vacations, etc, while Mom tends to more rural pleasures. They have six horses, at their farm, something that I’m confident my neighbors would be unhappy about if I were to suggest it my suburban neighborhood!
As part of being in a rural area, my ex and her new husband have some guns in the house. Locked up and with trigger locks, from what I understand, something I view as imperative. I know that both G-, my 14yo son, and K-, my little 10yo girl, have fired them too. In fact, K-‘s even apparently tried their shotgun, something I would have loved to have seen.
Me? Not much of a gun person, though I appreciate the attraction, especially for adolescent boys who generally have hunt! kill! hardwired into their brains.
When their step-father asked me about taking G- hunting, I really had to do some introspection before I assented. Would doing something solo with “step” dimish my son’s love for me? Was I competing for the role of father to my boy?
A bit of contemplation and I remembered that love isn’t a zero-sum game. For better or worse, their step-father is a part of my son’s life and in that regard having G- bond with him and them build a stronger relationship can only help G- growing up. Two men to help him make smart decisions and survive the hell that is male adolescence instead of just me. What’s not to like?
As a result, I granted my permission for the two of them to go hunting, if they went through a hunter safety class first. In fact, I think you have to do so to get a hunting permit, but still, it’s an area I’m clueless about so my concern was primarily “boys. guns. danger!”
Last weekend they completed their hunter safety training course, as demonstrated by the hunter safety permit, and now they’re ready to go out into the wilderness and, well, kill things.
To be candid, I’m still not so sure how I feel about the killing part. If they use the meat, prep, cook and eat their kill, then it’s not so bad, but I have definite reservations about trophy or recreational kills where the hunter just walks away from the animal, but my hope is that’s not what’s going to happen.
And I can only count my blessings that the new step-father in my children’s lives is respectful of his role in our complex family consellation and doesn’t seem at all desirous of usurping my role as father. Not every single dad is so lucky.
Now to pretend I’m not concerned about them out in the wilderness with guns.