Today I am taking Benjy to the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester.
Am I CRAZY or what??
I ask this because Bnejy is not your typical 12-year-old boy, the type who will enjoy seeing weapons ancient and modern, and then go home and make fart jokes and watch Family Guy and eat potato chips and ride his bike. Oh, no.
Benjy is OBSESSED with firearms, and this junket will just fuel the craziness.
The gun obsession started shortly before his first hospitalization, a few years ago. As he became more and more off-kilter he spent more and more of his waking moments thinking about guns. Googling them. Looking at military videos. Drawing them. And then he began rolling and folding and taping white sheets of printer paper into the most beautiful paper replicas. Stunning and accurate, often with working parts. He spent hours watching Youtube videos of slightly bent boys and young men crafting these things, and after a while became so adept at it he no longer needed the tutorials.We became rich in white paper guns, and it was deeply unsettling but also suggestive of intense (if somewhat skewed) creative energy.
It's been a year or two since he's made one of those. But the obsession is alive and well. Now, I don't think that Ben would ever use a gun to hurt a person or animal. Until recently (and by 'recently" I mean the onset of puberty, which is really changing everything) he would weep when hearing about soldiers dead in Afghanistan or Iraq. All he could do was think about their loved ones, bereft and heart-broken here at home. And shoot an animal? No Way. Animals were -- and I hope still are -- cherished beings. I've blogged about Ben's animals obsessions before -- even tarantulas are beautiful to Ben.
But recently a new darkness has emerged. Now, he's always harbored dark thoughts. Thinks the world is full of evil-doers and miscreants. (Often I agree with him, by the way, but I NEVER let him know that.) And those dark thoughts have worried me.
He just spent a few days with his best friend in Connecticut, and twenty-five percent of the time he was deeply dysregulated -- so much so that he was trying to shoot squirrels with a bow and arrow (his friend, according to Ben, has all the luck, all the "cool" equipment, such as a pocket knife and a real bow and arrows. He tells me about this stuff to let me know my failings as a mother. As if I am EVER going to give a kid with a long history of suicidality and self-injury the knives, arrows, and box-cutters he longs for. Jeez.)
Anyway, he and his friend were "hunting" (believe me, I had no idea till I got there to pick him up) and his first words to me when I arrived were:
"We ALMOST got a squirrel."
"Huh?" I said, blinking.
"With the bow and arrow."
When this registered I told him that our family does not believe in killing animals for sport, and that as an underage member of said family he is not allowed to try to do so.
"It's for FOOD, Braniac." (Ben gets rude and rebellious sometimes when dysregulated.)
"Oh? and who's going to skin and clean and cook it?"
Please note that this is the child who will not even eat chicken unless it is prepared by someone in a fast food uniform.
"And what will you do if you shoot it and it doesn't immediately die? Let it bleed to death or strangle it to put it out of its misery?"
Then the anger surfaced. "I HATE squirrels. They should ALL DIE. They eat bird seed out of bird feeders and I AM A BIRD LOVER. So who cares if I shoot one of them?"
Please note that our last conversation about squirrels centered on their cuteness and fluffiness and chubbiness and was conducted in a cute-animal-squeaky-voice. Like, don't you just WANT ONE FOR YOUR VERY OWN?
And it wasn't just squirrel murder that was on his off-kilter mind. He decided he hates cops, especially female ones, because apparently they are ALWAYS OUT TO GET YOU. Beware the lady cops -- they are cold-blooded killers. And he also decided that if you break a law -- a not-so-important one, possible like thou shalt not steal packs of gum from the convenience store, or something like that -- a simple apology should be enough, no police involvement necessary. And why the hell are there laws and rules ANYWAY?
Readers, this is scary stuff, because my child lacks the basic judgment of a typical twelve year old. Not that any twelve-year-old-boy is particularly reasonable, what with all those hormones kicking in. But mine has no common sense, no rationality, no cool head in a hot situation. I can just see him telling a cop, "Look, dude, you're the one who's wrong. There shouldn't BE rules about not stealing gum from convenience stores because there should NOT BE MONEY and EVERYTHING SHOULD JUST BE AVAILABLE FOR EVERYONE, WHENEVER THEY WANT IT. AND WHO MADE THESE STUPID RULES UP ANYWAY?
Then I can see him being booked at the station and sent away to juvvy and living a life of terrible fear and loneliness and sadness and deprivation, and then I will want to die.
So why am I taking him to the Armory Museum? I guess to ease his loneliness and sadness, and give him something interesting to do on a hot, empty Friday.
Oh my God. Wish me luck.