Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Be Careful Where You Point That Thing

Back when I was a kid, if you didn't have a toy gun, and the gang wanted to go outside and play war or cops and robbers, and all you had was your finger as a gun, the rule was that you could not make imaginary machine gun sounds when you "shot" at your enemy. One finger = single shot, two hands in position as if you were holding a tommy gun = machine gun and you could go "rat-a-tat-tat" all day long.

But the really cool kid was the one who got a "six finger" for Christmas.

I remember the ads on T.V. had a jingle, and it went something like this,
"SixFinger, SixFinger, Man alive! How'd I ever get along with five?"
We couldn't bring our toy guns or SixFingers to school (although pocket knives were okay). All we had was five fingers (on each hand) and our imaginations to battle invading Nazis, Yankees, or Daleks, and to play cops and robbers, or cowboys and indians during recess. And you had to pull the imaginary pin out of your imaginary hand grenade with your teeth and throw it before the imaginary count down blew it up in your hands but not too quickly such that your enemy might pick it up and toss it back at you.

These days, we would be arrested, suspended, and our case tried in the news media like this boy,

"According to Fox News, an 8-year-old Florida boy was suspended from school after using his finger as a pretend gun while playing cops and robbers with his friends.
Jordan Bennett was suspended for a day after administrators at Harmony Community School in Harmony, Fla., said the gesture was an act of violence, reported.
His mother, Bonnie, told the station she's concerned that her son may labeled violent with a suspension now on his academic record.
'He had nothing in his hand. It was a finger gun, a pretend gun,' Bonnie Bennett said. 'He didn't threaten violence. He didn't utter words that were inappropriate. He made a sound and used his fingers and that was it.'
School district officials told the station its code of conduct prohibits students from playing with invisible guns. Bonnie Bennett believes there are more effective ways the district could have disciplined her son."
Next thing you know, some genius will decide that poor parenting is to blame, and the State's social workers will be making a home visit with an eye to remove the child and place him in protective custody.

I hate to think what would have happened to my parents if today's rules were in place back then.

My shooting spit balls using the barrel of a BIC pen back in 5th grade would have gotten me in big trouble now.

Imagine the carnage!

That plastic pen barrel was far more accurate than the old SixFinger. You could dot the "i" of whatever word your teacher had written on the blackboard (remember those?) from a good ten paces and then quickly reinsert the ink and tip back into the pen before anybody could turn around and identify the shooter.

Now that kids can't play with imaginary weapons, I guess they will have to find something else to play with.

I wonder if they now have the need to play with real guns, and to shoot real people with real bullets.

Such might be the unintended consequences of the elimination of imagination on the playground.

Or am I just firing blanks?

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