DAVID CAMPBELL was anti-toy guns… until his son got a water pistol.
Let me start with a confession that may not surprise you... I don’t like guns. I’ve never fired a gun. Never held a weapon for fun. Well, that’s not exactly true. I still remember one of my favouriterite Christmas presents as a child when n I got a bike and an official Star tar Wars Han Solo blaster, just like the one Harrisonn wielded in The Empire Strikes Back – the greatest movie vie in the series and that is a fact I will not debate here.
So, when I became a parent to Leo, I really doubled down wn on this, to the point wherehere we did not want him m to have any toy guns. ns. No water pistols. No sticks ticks shaped as guns. Nothing. thing.
I had basicallyically become Michael J. Fox’s ox’s dad in Family Ties. A sensitive new-age dad. d. A SNAD. Ugh, that soundsounds awful. Snaddy daddy. dy. Ugh, that sounds worse se – but I digress.
Over the summer we took the family too Malaysia to see some of my wife’s family, who happen to bee American. They are super-fun and nd have a son who is about two years ears older than Leo. We’ve had many an adventure together.ogether. Yet when we all trundled down to the pool, to my surprise, out came the water pistols. Leo’s eyes lit up. It’s Christmas. What, was I going to be the gun Grinch? So I asked my level-headed American cousin-in-law for ad advice. “Have you shot a gun?” I as asked. “Of course, I used to hunt deer.” (H (He was basically chewing tobacco in a singlet at this point.) I stammered, in my slippers, “So, you have no p problem with them using toy g guns?” He stared at me as if he were looking at me t through the sights of a high-poweredhighdeer gun and I had antlers. “Dude, it’s a toy.” He got me. RightRigh in my hypocrisy. My facade crumbled and I hea heard the faint sound of JohnnyJohnn Mathis and Deniece William Williams singing “Sha la la la” for the la last time. I turned and marchedmarch to the pool where the boys werewe filling up the pistols. Mariachi trumpets sounded in my head in the hot Kuala Lumpur sun. I grabbedgr the two spare plastic pistol pistols, looked down the barrel of the camera (in my mind) and huskilyhusk whispered, “Let’s do th this.” I slow-mo leapt into the pool while shooting at those two unsuspecting boy boys. They scattered, howling wit with laughter, trying to cat catch me, but I had a stark realisation: they hadn’t seen what I’d seen. They knew nothing about the fight at Die Hard’s Nakatomi Plaza and how to defeat Hans Gruber. Yippee ki-yay, pre-tweens… pew pew. I have paused the video over and over again in Rambo II and knew exactly how to use the water to divide and conquer these two no-hopers. In my head, I was all my heroes rolled into one. Arnie, Sly, Bruce – I’d studied the moves. Learnt the movies. I recited the lines like I made them up and belly laughed so much, water filled my mouth and lungs, but I no longer cared. Then it happened.
Victory. They didn’t see their defeat coming. Nor did they care. By the end we had so much fun. So much that Leo still talks about that afternoon and asks, “Can’t we do it again?” The truth is I want to. I want to overturn the rules I set up. To stop literally being the fun police and just have fun.
Then it hit me. Where we can have Leo’s birthday party this year? Laser Tag! I will crush his friends at Laser Tag.
had become sensitive new-age dad. A SNAD. Ugh, that sounds awful”