As I explained in a previous blog, I have always been opposed to toy guns and never wanted my children to have them, despite the fact that my son has been not-so-subtly hinting for several years that he wants a Nerf gun and thinks he’s old enough and responsible enough. My kids are now 12 and 13; thanks to the feedback from my friends and family, I decided to change the rule. After all, a good leader needs to be willing to change her mind once in a while; where would this world be if our laws were never subject to revision? So I gave my kids a Nerf dart tag game for Christmas.
However, I could not just hand them guns and have done with it. They had to have guidelines to follow, or I would be constantly having to correct undesirable behavior. I thought long and hard, and asked for suggestions from my friends and family, and finally came up with a list of rules. The Ten Commandments of Nerf. To make it fun, I asked Ian to write a poem to introduce the commandments I had written. Here is the result (I’m rather proud of it if I do say so myself):
Once there were a girl and a boy
who had dreamed of owning a special toy
made by Nerf, it was a shooting gun.
They imagined all of the joy and the fun
they would have, and they said they would pay
but their mother said, straight out, “NO WAY!”
“But MAMA” they said, “all our other friends have one!”
“Well, if they jumped off a cliff…” she had just begun
when they said “yes we would if we had a Nerf gun!”
“We will even be good and ever so pleasant;
Oh please Mama pleeease, would you buy us this present?”
Their Mother looked down with her previous look;
she was scared because she knew it only took
one misplaced firing or rough-housing act
to make her wish she could have her words back.
“I’ll do this” she said, with concern in her eye,
“if you promise to me these rules you’ll live by.
Understanding that if these rules you should break,
from your possession the Nerf I shall take.
Accepting as well that the Nerf I will keep,
No matter how much you beg, bargain, or weep:”
THE NERF COMMANDMENTS
I. Thou shalt never point thy Nerf in any direction thou art not allowed to shoot.
II. Thou shalt never fire upon nor aim the Nerf at an animal, especially if such animal is a vicious wild animal, in which case a Nerf gun will be of no help to thee anyway.
III. Thou shalt only use the Nerf out-of-doors, unless exception is granted specifically on that day by thy mother or father.
IV. Thou shalt not shoot or point the gun at thy opponent’s head, face, or neck, nor at the head, face, or neck, of any other living being for that matter.
V. Thou shalt ALWAYS wear eye protection when using the Nerf, lest thou shoot thy eye out. And don’t even try to argue that thy friends’ parents do not require it, for we are not thy friends’ parents and will not be swayed.
VI. Thou shalt never aim at nor fire upon an unarmed man, woman, or child.
VII. Thou shalt not throw the Nerf guns at any time, no matter how frustrated thou shalt become.
VIII. If thy Nerf guns or darts become damaged or misplaced, thy own money shall be used for them to replace.
IX. Thou shalt never combine the use of thy Nerf with food or beverage consumption. In other words, thou shalt neither aim nor fire upon someone who is holding or consuming food or beverage, nor shalt thou use the Nerf while holding a food or beverage thyself, lest thou make an unholy messe of thy clothes.
X. These commandments thou shalt hold sacred and if thou shalt break them, thy Nerf and video game privileges shall be immediately revoked for a period of no less than three days hence, though the timeframe shall be subject to extension by thy mother or father, dependent upon the severity of thy transgression.