Play Nicely with the Other Children

A new preschool recently opened across the road from me. Thinking about enrolling my youngest child, I asked if I could sit in for a morning to see if I would be comfortable leaving my son there. “Sure”, came the ready reply from the professional-looking Principal.

Over the next hour or so, the place filled up quickly with bright-eyed two- to five-year-olds. The first formal activity was Show and Tell. This will be illuminating, thought I.

Maria was the first to stand. “I brought in a set of Daddy’s old knuckles”, she said, proudly displaying a worn set of knuckle-dusters.

“Aren’t they illegal?” I murmured to the teacher.

“No. They’re ok in this State,” she replied. “She’s not going to use them anyway….”

Next was Alphonse. I thought my surprise for the day had passed. I was wrong. Three-year-old Alphonse whipped out a hunting knife, beaming from ear to ear.

“Isn’t that…..” I began.

“No. It’s ok in this State. He’s hardly likely to use it on anyone, though, is he?” she countered.

I gave her a very doubtful look which she happily ignored.

Miriam now took centre stage with her Grandfather’s Luger which, she proudly informed us, he had taken from a dead German officer during the war.

I cautiously rose to my feet.

“Don’t worry”, said the teacher, laying a comforting hand on my arm. “It’s so old I doubt it even works. In any case, guns don’t kill, people do. And Miriam doesn’t look like a killer, does she?”

Miriam gave me a disarming smile.

“I suppose…”

“That’s nothing,” boomed little Joshua, as he staggered to the front, desperately trying to carry an M-16 assault rifle.

“Oh, come on!” I exclaimed.

The teacher could see where I was heading and cut me off. “They are perfectly legal in this State!” she pronounced. “And we do insist on the standard magazines rather than the oversize ones. Anyway, guns don’t…”

“I know, I know,” I replied.

For some reason, I was not feeling particularly comfortable at the thought of my three-year-old immersed in such a culture.

I lay awake that night trying to make sense of it all. Suddenly, it was all crystal clear: fists don’t punch – people do. Knives don’t stab – people do. Guns don’t kill – people do. Nuclear weapons don’t destroy the planet for centuries to come – people do. The solution is simple – ban people!

Not me, of course, I’m perfectly rational. If you disagree with that, then you clearly have a problem. So, I’m afraid, you will be banned.

 

Stephen Tomkins

19 July 2016

Sydney

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