In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at booklocker.com or amazon.com.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at email@example.com
Find more columns by Palmer here.
Steamboat Springs Nothing says “I love you” like a gun.
Yes, a gun.
Christmas is months away and my 14-year-old son already is badgering me to buy him a gun and put it underneath the tree. Truth be told, he badgers me all year long, but when hunting season starts, he dials it up a notch.
My son loves hunting and guns.
How can this be? His father doesn’t hunt, and I am terrified of guns. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, and no one I knew hunted. I was a mini Dr. Doolittle who dragged home every wounded bird and stray cat in the neighborhood and tried to nurse them back to health or find them a home. I desperately wanted to be a veterinarian and at one point had 20 rabbits, a wounded chick, a couple of hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, an aquarium teeming with tropical fish and my beloved Boston terrier, Polly. Then, I moved to Colorado and discovered hunting was a popular pastime.
I understand both sides of the argument because, trust me, I’ve had it countless times with hunters as well as my son. I know, because I occasionally eat meat, that I am a hypocrite. I accept that. I believe most hunters are responsible and fill their freezer with food for their families. But I am such an animal lover that I could never kill an animal. Even if the fate of the animal otherwise would be starvation or death from old age, I could not pull the trigger.
My mother always said she could endure anything except the death of one of her children. I feel exactly the same way. In my mind, owning a gun increases the risk of injury. Even if it’s unloaded and locked in a gun safe in the garage with a hidden key, it’s still a presence in the house.
I can’t wrap my head around handing my son a gun before the state of Colorado issues him a driver’s license. But I don’t want to deny Peter something he is so passionate about, so I’ve tried to find a compromise.
I signed him up for hunter safety. He passed with flying colors.
I enrolled him in the 4-H shooting class and dutifully drove him once a week to the gun range. He loved it. I took him skeet shooting at Three Quarter Circles Sporting Clays. Thanks to Maureen Hogue — the epitome of patience — I enjoyed myself. But no animals were killed. Nothing had to be skinned, gutted or butchered.
I hoped his interest in hunting would be a phase, like Legos or Pokemon cards. I hoped once he actually killed an animal he would feel so bad that it would be the end of it. So last fall I reluctantly agreed to let him go hunting for pronghorn with a responsible adult friend. He shot and killed a pronghorn on the first day. Instead of feeling remorse, he was thrilled.
I was depressed.
He is going hunting for pronghorn again this fall with a borrowed gun. His primal instinct may be to hunt, but my maternal instinct is to protect. I will continue to listen to his arguments and try to support his passion. I have to love him for who he is instead of who I think he should be. That is the challenging part about love and parenting. Sometimes you have to give your blessing even when love pushes you in a direction you don’t want to go. We’ll get there, I’m convinced, because in the end, love does conquer all.