“Your Gonna Shoot Your Eye Out”


It's In the Genes


One of my favorite Christmas movies is “A Christmas Story” the 1983 classic by Jean Shepherd in which the adorable nine-year old Ralphie Parker campaigns for his one and only Christmas wish, for Santa to bring him a “”an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time.” This movie has always stuck a cord with me long before I was even a mother. You see as a kid I had parents who let Santa bring me a Daisy BB Gun when I was about 10 years old and I am mortified to admit it but my cousins and I did actually shoot at each other, thankfully no one got their eye shot out!

Let me tell you a little story. My grandparents lived on a farm in the sand-hills of Nebraska. A creek ran through the property melting with a fast moving river winding its way through the pastures. As kids we ran free on the farm, with modest supervision, but it was an absolutely wonderful way to spend my childhood years. We’d go visit for magical weekends, Grandpa would give us tractor rides, Grandma would fill our tummies with delicious pies, cinnamon rolls and stick to your ribs hearty meals and we’d play with our cousins making up a make believe world of cowboys and Indians and Civil War battles out in the trees.

As we got a bit older, maybe 11-12 my parents let us run around outside with “the guns” now don’t get too excited here. First of all, I was the oldest and therefore the most responsible of the pack of cousins, I was bound by duty to keep us all from getting lost, stuck in the barbed wire fence, or from falling into the river and drowning. My gun was the only real threat we had, since the “other” gun was my mothers 30 year old Daisy BB Gun and when you shot it you could actually see the BB launch itself from the barrel and drop quickly to the ground in a big arch. You could stand directly in front of that old gun and barely feel the tab of the BB when it hit you as it had long ago lost any threat of real power.

We’d divide into “teams” three against two then each team would claim a section of land that was ours to fight for. We’d take stations squaring off against each other across the creek, a 3 foot wide 8 inch deep formidable force of raging water (not). Soon the battle cries could be heard and the war was on. I usually got to be the keeper of the good gun and although to the casual observer it might have looked like I was taking careful aim at my younger sibling or cousin across the creek from me, astute trackers could clearly see that I was taking careful aim to miss my opponent. The “bad guys” i.e. the other team would in fact take extreme care to take aim directly at us because they knew they were armed with a weapon that would not make it across the creek without a lot of luck. Those were the days my friend, those were the days.

In today’s world of bubble wrapped kids this might seem to be worthy of a Social Services investigation but in reality it was a perfect childhood. We were not dumb, we knew we had to be careful and take care of each other. We knew about gun safety, we knew how to swim and we knew the rules and what would happen if we broke the rules. We were so thankful that we had parents who would let us go out and explore our world that we wouldn’t dare do anything that would put that freedom in jeopardy.

I know, as a mother that desire to keep your kids safe but to try to keep your kids safe at all costs is just wrong. Today they call this tendency by parents with only good intentions “helicopter parenting” and I try to stop myself from ever being a helicopter mom. I believe in letting your kids experience life, let them make some mistakes; help them learn from them when they do and let them have a few adventures. Don’t be afraid to give them a Red Ryder BB Gun, they won’t shoot their eye out, I promise. Yes, my daughter has a Daisy BB gun and I let her shoot it, with protective safety glasses on!

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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  1. Heidi Shaffer says:

    OMG! I love this! A Christmas Story is my favorite also!!!

  2. Cathie Genung says:

    Love this one. I grew up on a ranch in northern Nebraska so I can picture your grandparent’s farm. We (I have five younger sisters) had bb guns & no one ever lost an eye;however, we were always warned to be careful. Several years ago I purchased a vintage Red Ryder BBGun for Tom. My best find yet at a garage sale. What a legacy these blogs will be. Yes, you may want to make them into a book. They have great appeal. Actually, this gives me an idea for junior literature. Wonder how many blogs the students read… Got a little rambling there. :) Again, thanks for the smiles. Cathie Genung

    • Bucketlistblogger says:

      I can’t believe you found a Red Ryder BB gun at a garage sale! What a find! I am glad you enjoyed this one, as kids we really had an amazing time playing on the farm. Even though it the farm is no longer in the family we can rent it out for family events which we have done several times. It is a fun way to share our memories with our kids. Enjoy!