how to explain gun control to an 8 year old

I’ve been balancing some form of nannying/babysitting since I was about 15, and I’ve been so lucky to have met some really wonderful families along the way. Oddly enough, I usually end up watching mostly boys, which has given me a perspective that I never would have considered otherwise. Boys are rough, and brutal, and harsh, and really gross and smelly, and only rarely are they sweet and gentle. I’ve had my fair share of “where do babies come from” type questions (loudly in the middle of PetSmart), and I feel like I’m always walking that really fine line, trying to figure out what level of response they can handle at their age. You want to give enough of an answer that they’re satisfied, but not too much that they’ll brag about it at school, or too little that they’ll ask a friend at school. I’ve seen both happen, and they’re equally as bad and end up with a much longer and more detailed discussion of whatever that topic was in the first place.

A few nights a week, I watch Jayden (8) and Z (4) after work and take care of homework, dinner, bathtime, and bedtime. I love them to death and I miss them if I go a few days without seeing them for too long! Last night was my first time seeing them in a week, and we decided to go to the park since the weather was gorgeous. On our walk, Jayden started chattering about how someone at school told him that if Donald Trump were president, he wouldn’t let Jayden’s family into the country [because they’re Chinese] and they don’t belong here. He kinda looked up at me for my response, hoping I’d react, but I let him keep talking because I wanted to hear what he thought of it. He had tried to stick up for himself, but didn’t know enough (or really anything at all) about Trump to have a response.

I tried to explain immigration in the simplest way possible, explaining that people come into our country for different reasons, and in different ways. I think he understood, but it opened a whole can of worms about who Trump is, why people don’t like him, what he believes in, etc. We talked about democrats and republicans, gun control, minority rights, minimum wage, and a few other topics that I NEVER would have known about when I was 8. Despite growing up in Chicago and being exposed to some harsh realities, he lives a relatively sheltered and privileged life so I was pleasantly surprised by some of his opinions and insights.

When I was explaining gun control, he completely blew me out of the water by telling me that he thinks video games about killing make people want real guns. We discussed how guns are registered, how expensive they are, what they’re allowed to be used for, and what laws Trump believes in. Jayden was appalled that I could potentially carry a gun if Trump passed the concealed carry law, and I think that made the argument a lot clearer in his mind since it was a tangible example.

We talked about how every candidate has a platform, which is a list of things they believe in. He seemed very interested that some candidates think school is more important than others, and decided that his teachers were probably going to vote for Hillary Clinton “so they don’t get fired.”

This type of conversation went on for almost 45 minutes before he got distracted and ran off to play basketball, but I genuinely enjoyed every minute of our talk. I love that he was so interested, and kept finding ways that the candidates choices affected his every day life. He understood things that never would have crossed my mind when I was 8, and Brian said the same thing when I told him. I don’t know if it comes from a change in society, the amount of technology available, or something else, but the level of understanding coming from him was amazing. In general I think it’s a great sign that kids are more educated on politics, if for no other reason than when they grow up and start voting, they’ll be a whole lot more educated than voters are now. Hopefully it will be a dose of the increasingly hostile state of politics in our country and will inspire a new generation of people putting their foot down for what they believe. Last week, I probably would’ve told you that I dread the day Jayden turns 16 or 18 and is driving a car or voting. Today, I’d say I’m equally as terrified about him driving, but I’m much more confident that he’d be an educated voter.

meanwhile, during that entire conversation at the park, Z quietly practiced pumping her legs on the swing, whispering “in, out, in, out…” I adore that girl.

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