Rite of passage parenting: Grown-up games
Every child grows up playing games that simulate adult life. I don’t know any woman who, as a little girl, didn’t have a doll or play dress up. How many of you ladies spent hours trying on Mom’s high heels and lipstick?
I don’t know of any man who, as a boy, didn’t have a toy car or truck along with a stick to swing around as a make-believe sword. I remember taking my toy trucks, loading them up with gravel and making tracks in the dirt. Of course, I had to press my lips together to make my own truck sounds: “Putt—putt—putt.”
I liked any toy that had to do with construction. I spent hours building my empire out of Lincoln Logs. I had dump trucks, a road grader and all sorts of tools. If all my toys had been real, I would have had everything necessary to run a good-sized construction company.
As you grow and mature, the toys you choose change, too. I moved from toy trucks into bows and arrows. Before long, I was walking around wearing a cowboy hat and a toy pistol strapped to my side.
Then came the bicycle and the BB gun. Those two things made me feel even more grown up. My bike gave me freedom. I could ride to school, down to a nearby grocery store or over to a friend’s house. For my first job as a paperboy, I rode my bike twice a day to deliver papers. At that point, my bike stopped being a toy and became a way to make some spending money.
Not a Christmas goes by that we don’t watch the movie “A Christmas Story,” in which the young boy Ralphie Parker is sitting at the kitchen table when his mother asks what he wants for Christmas. Nervously, he blurts out that he wants a Red Ryder BB Gun. He risked it all by asking for such a grown-up gift. And of course his mother responds with that classic line, “No, you’ll shoot your eye out.”
You know what? Mrs. Parker had a point.
All children want gifts that make them seem like adults. When I was growing up, every little girl wanted an Easy-Bake oven that used a hot light bulb to cook with. The box was emblazoned, “Use Only with Adult Supervision,” but of course the adult activities were what made the toy desirable.
Unlike Ralphie, I did get a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun and along with it, a round tube filled with hundreds of tiny steel balls. I spent hours shooting that BB gun and going on imaginary hunts. Most of the time, all I did was scare away whatever I was hunting. But one day (this is the point in every TV show where you hear, “Do not try this at home. All the stunts are performed by trained professionals.”), my brother and I decided to play war. Our BB guns were well-used by this time and didn’t shoot as far or as fast as they did at first.
Heading into battle, I knew I needed to protect myself, so I got one of my granddad’s coal buckets to use as a helmet. After all, the last thing I wanted was to shoot my eye out. As we played, I thrilled to the “ping, ping” sound of tiny BBs ricocheting off the bucket. For all I know, my brother and I were the original inventors of the game Laser Tag … without the lasers.
When I thought the war was over, I removed my bucket-helmet and suddenly, “Phhhhht.” A BB struck me and embedded itself in my forehead just above my left eyebrow. To this day, I carry that scar. That injury marked the end of the Moore BB Wars. You guessed it. It had something to do with my mom and, “No, you’ll shoot your eye out.”
As your children grow older, take care to instruct them about the full armor of God. Until Jesus comes back, we are at war every day. That means the enemy is after your children. You can sit idly by or you can instruct them about how to protect themselves from the enemy’s onslaughts. Eph. 6:10-20 makes a good starting point. It teaches you how to cover yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground” (Eph. 6:13a).
Be careful not to let your guard down because you think the battle is over. You don’t want to shoot your eye out … or get zinged above the left one, either.