This past weekend I gave a dear loved one a phone call and she informed me that my Dad had passed along a story of our Eli. The story went like this:
A few weeks ago we had a puppy living with us, a very little one.
As the children and he were playing out doors one day I found Eli repeatedly lifting a large plastic toy and swinging it down at the puppy, who was dodging it just fine.
Nonetheless alarmed I ran up to stop my boy in his frenzy and ask: 'Eli!! What are you doing??'
'I twying to kill da doggy.'
In shock I could only respond: 'Why??'
'He bite mah sister.'
At this I received a small amount of relief that my boy was at least showing protective instincts, rather than just being murderous. (We did go on to teach him more about puppies and how to look after them.)
I told that story to my father who found it highly amusing. He passed the story on to my loved one who found it.....horrifying.
On the phone she asked me, with no small amount of anxiety: 'Lauren, where would he have gotten that from??'
I laughed awkwardly whilst mentally scrambling.
He could have gotten it from any number of places, as I well know.
'Eli's favourite books involving killing...' I think to myself, not sure where to begin.
Which would be acceptable to list? The Jungle Book? Treasure Island? The Bible? (No definitely not the last one...she is already sensitive on that front after she observed me once, much to her distress at the time, reading the story of the martyring of Stephen to Cassandra.)
'I mean, "The Swiss Family Robinson" doesn't have killing in it does it?' she spoke into the silence, knowing that to be a story Eli has heard.
'Oh yes.' I answer breezily, glad to be thrown a bone, 'They fairly shoot and try to eat just about every animal they come across.'
The subject is changed and the conversation moves on, but I think about it for some time afterward.
I know that my beloved family member feels that I am not sheltering my children enough at times.
I also know that, within my family, some concerns about our decision to homeschool our children have been that they will be sheltered.
I think that in the future, when people voice this concern, I am going to be quite specific in my questions to them as to what constitutes 'sheltering' in their minds.
Sheltering children is no bad thing. Everyone does this to some degree.
Some parents shelter their children from horror movies. Some parents shelter their children from watching the evening news. Some parents shelter their children from the consequences of their failure. Everyone shelters their kids.
I have also noticed the things that parents don't shelter their children from. Many of these things are viewed as normal and good in our society.
Some of these I wish to shelter my own children from- for many years to come.
So I am starting to think through some of my parenting decisions, some of the ideas and concepts I am exposing my children to, and those which I am deliberately shielding them from.
It's making for many quiet moments of staring into space.