Mommy’s got a gun

“I want a gun.”

All summer every conversation with my mother has included that phrase. No, she’s not homicidal, angry at my father or suddenly interested in skeet shooting. My mother wants to shoot the deer in her backyard.

Gun shopping at Wal-mart

Gun shopping at Wal-mart

I know that this doesn’t strictly fall into the topic of getting my MBA, but part of this life transition has involved some time at home. That means I get to see my parents’ obsessions and worries up close. Which includes the neighborhood deer.

My mother and the deer in her wooded neighborhood have co-existed peacefully for 11 years. The deer ate the shrubs, flowers and other outdoor savories (like the corncob pipe on her Frosty the Snowman all-weather statue) outside the fence and Mom planted her favorite flowers inside the fence, where the deer didn’t venture.

Then this year the deer shattered the detante and turned my mother’s lovely garden into their private smorgasboard.

They’ve clipped her tomatoes, razored her hostas, stripped a small tree. Every morning she discovers another violation. And that’s when she would call me.

“I want a gun.”

The chosen air gun

The chosen air gun

Well, today she got her wish. We went to Wal-Mart, one of the few places in America where you can buy a 5-pound bag of sugar and an airgun. We got both. (Pictures of the shopping excursion are coming, just as soon as I can locate my camera USB cable in my moving boxes.) She picked out an all-black model that looks a lot like the guns I’ve seen in movies, some Co2 canisters, a container of copper-colored pellets and a paper bullseye.

Read Mom’s take on the gun-buying and deer-shooting experience here.

Now, let me clarify: We are not a gun family. My father is the only hunter among us and he hasn’t fired a gun in 35 years. He has a few old guns dusty and hiding in pieces somewhere in our attic. We do have a ten-point buck head mounted in the rec room, but my grandfather shot that more than 40 years ago. I don’t walk through the gun section of Wal-mart. I don’t even play paintball. The most dangerous thing I’ve ever fired is a Super Soaker.

Mom takes aim

Mom takes aim

So it’s weird for me to even watch my mother handle a gun, watch her practice her aim using my brother’s cardboard cutout of Indiana Jones as a target. She’s a good shot.

So, why am I uncomfortable?  I certainly don’t think this is some descent into gun violence. My mom bought an airgun because she doesn’t actually want to kill the deer — and because it’s illegal to discharge a firearm within city limits. She said she just wants to sting the deer’s behinds a bit, make them associate our yard with pain. It’s a deer spanking.

I do worry that she may accidentally shoot out a window when she fires the thing at 3 a.m. Or that she’ll shoot a deer in the eye or the nose and cause some permanent damage. Or, worst of all, that she’ll shoot her eye out. And that’s at the crux of it — our roles flipped today. For a just a few moments, she was the little kid begging for a Red Rider BB Gun and I was the wary mom.

It was an odd place to be.

Where Mom shot the Indiana Jones cutout

Where Mom shot the Indiana Jones cutout


About missmba

What happens when a language-loving, mathphobic liberal arts major goes jumps on the MBA train. Follow my adventures at a top 20 business school.
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One Response to Mommy’s got a gun

  1. annesimpson says:

    I enjoyed your post about your mum – my mum was highly adventurous, climbed Mt Kilimanjoro in East Africa when she was 65 after raising a family with my father in Ruanda and later in Uganda.

    She died aged 94 died a few months ago, widowed for 14 years, and leaving me with a void that is hard to fill – but also a sense of relief because she had lived a full life and didn’t want to go into permanent care. She lived near me for the past 11 years, independently yet at times suffocatingly needy, but I guess when I am old I will understand better. I think the mother-daughter relationship is one of the most complex ones there is – although I have a beautiful daughter and we are so close and open and honest with eachother. Sometimes mum envied us this intimacy because I found her need to know all about me intrusive rather than caring, and wanting to be involved in every aspect of my life made me evasive and at times truculent to the point of being childish. And I am 63 and should know better!!

    I have a picture of her on my desk, she is smiling gently and at times I apologise to her for being stroppy. But she knew that she was dearly loved and that I put my life on hold for years for her. And I have learnt some good lessons on how not to behave as a mother and grandmother. But I can also be thankful for the positive things we learnt and inherited from her – she was loving, warm, demonstrative and immensely funny and witty – she imbued in us a sense of family that I see reflected in my chidren’s homes and high moral values – which we may not always follow but at least we know what they are! She could also be very bossy – and yes there is plenty of evidence of these superior managerial skills in our family.
    I know that as we grow older our world takes on a different shape, our health deteriortes and attitudes become skewed and distorted -and we cling to the familiar, to family – in particular our daughters. I just hope that mine will be patient with me when I am arthritic, grumpy and lonely and that I will remember to smile and laugh a lot and respect her space.

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