December 14, 2008

You Will Shoot Your Eye Out

Have you heard the fireworks lately? More like massive bomb blasts. You’d think that after so many years of wars, shootings, fighting, blowing up things and bombings, people would prefer a little quiet.

Uhuh. Not in this place. Quite the opposite. It is as if the young are trying to emulate real car bombs with their fireworks explosions. They get you to sit upright in your bed.

No, that’s fireworks, oma,” my 6-year old daughter told her visiting grandmother, who – coming from a small Dutch town – has not experienced anything beyond colorful fire crackers.

When my son was born, some 14 years ago, I vouched I would never ever buy that child a toy gun in a society that was so terribly scarred by guns. It was a battle I soon lost. I think he is right now on BB gun # 864. I’ve got little yellow balls rolling all around the house; the moment you turn on the Hoover, you can hear them ‘ricceticticcety‘ around inside the vacuum cleaner.

Street Fighting

But ever since the May street fighting right at my door steps, and the bullet holes in the façade of my apartment, his interest has gone a step higher. From just target practice in the house, he’s gotten himself organized in a gang of some 20 neighborhood boys, and they roam the street at dusk, running around the parking lots and abandoned old houses in the hood, playing ‘war’. They do it complete with taking hostages and reload pauses. They run in between cars, hide behind bumpers and the Sokleen garbage bins and cross the street in between the traffic in order to shoot each other.
I am not the only one.

Rami of Land and People also remarked that since the street fighting in May he’d seen some disturbing scenes;

‘My neighborhood has been invaded by kids carrying guns, all styles of guns: there's the ubiquitous AK47 (a household favorite), silver pump action 12-gauge shot guns, M16's and even tiny Uzis, specially designed for summer shorts. The armed children patrol the street and give each others orders on the fake Motorola talkie-walkies. Sometimes, they engage each others: they take fighting stances, move cautiously from car to car, then roll across the street and light explosive devices that shake our windows.’ (source)

In discussions with friends the general view came up that today is no different than the ‘old days’. Even in Holland, we’d play ‘cowboys and Indians’, albeit with harmless little toy guns that couldn’t shoot.

Oh, you’ve forgotten the white plastic PCB tubes we used to steal from construction sites, and roll our own paper darts with strips of paper?” a friend of mine reminded me.

Pijltjes blazen’ we called it. It is even an authentic topic on Wikipedia.

Indeed, I had forgotten those, probably because I was one of those poor suckers who couldn’t roll her own darts, and had to pick up the used left-over darts from others. Those used ones never got far.

The real ones, the freshly rolled darts, could really shoot hard. Indeed. I remember. I got one in the eye one day.

You Could Shoot Your Eye Out

And so, when my son started to engage in these evening battles with his friends, and the newly acquired pump action shot gun that went along with it, his father and I have been haggling him about the safety issue.

We’d rather just prohibit the whole things, but that’s kind of hard with a soon to be 15-year old man-child as tall as I currently am. We are hoping he’ll soon grow out of it, and until that time, we’re working on damage control. And so we keep reminding him; “This is very dangerous, you could shoot you eye out, or even worse somebody else’s eye” , “Don’t shoot above the shoulders” and “wear your goggles at all times!”

But I think the problem has solved itself.

I am not going to play BB-Gun wars anymore", he announced as I walked into the house yesterday evening. He had his back turned to me.

Oh really? Well, what caused that revolutionary decision?” I asked him.

And then he turned around. He was hit right on the eye lid. A perfect hit!

He had just lifted his goggles to argue with a friend about the rules of the game when an upset kid raised his gun and shot him Kebeng! right in the face. I guess in retrospect we should be happy that he had the reflex to close his eyes. He really could have gotten his eye shot out.

But somehow I think this whole situation is rather funny. I mean, we’ve been telling him for ages now that he could have his eye shot out, and he actually almost did. A hands-on experience, so to speak. The eye-lid is starting to inflate, and will soon discolor into some fantastic mauve shades. A disgruntled teenager with an inflated eye and a deflated ego, behind his laptop.

He is terribly annoyed over the fact that every time I see his swollen eye, I smile. Hey honey, I told you so!


Anonymous said...

Perfect headshot!

Ms. Tee said...

As kids, we used to go crazy with fireworks during the Eid and got completely frustrated with adults who'd shout at us to stop. That was during the civil war. Given the general state of amnesia, I cannot remember what we were thinking. But I have often wondered since then whatever possessed us. The only reconstructed answer I could come up with: overcoming the feeling of helplessness. We were so shit scared during the bombing that we could not wait to get out in the open, shout out our presence, and have some sort of control over the terrible sounds that dictated our lives.

Salemet 3ayno.

Anonymous said...

He's a Pink Floyd fan, don't worry, he'll turn out just fine :)

Malka said...

When I lived in Israel, they would also set off fireworks like this. Sometimes it really is hard to distinguish. There's a time around a particular holiday (Purim) where they set off fireworks late into the night for nearly a month - we woke up once not sure if it was a gun battle or what....I found it extremely irritating.