If you give a boy a NERF gun, he will want to shoot it.
You’ll buy him the coolest NERF gun you can find, and then he will probably want some extra bullets and another gun, too.
Then, he will probably start asking you to set up his toy animals to shoot, or to play war with he and his friends. And even though you want to sit on the couch and watch the Cubs, he will insist, and his insistence will win.
Eventually, you will buy the boy a bb gun, and he will want pellets and some targets to go with it. Then he’ll want a place to go shoot it, and you’ll find him one.
And then, if you’re lucky, life as you know it will change.
Idle weekends at home will be few and far between. You will see more corners of your county than you ever thought reasonable. Your day off will be spent hauling gear and decoys and crappy old tents and crazy boys all over tarnation chasing whatever’s in season.
And your house will be a mess. And your truck will be dirty.
You’ll spend his teenage years freezing in a duck blind or burning to death on a folding chair at a trap meet. He’ll spend his teenage years gaining confidence and friends, and learning new skills, having fun and getting dirty. You’ll teach him what it means to be a man while he makes you feel young again.
And you will be there the day he shoots his first squirrel, his first rooster, and his first deer. And he will make you so proud.
And right before your eyes, your little boy will be transformed from the toddler who ran around shooting his sister with the NERF gun, into a hunter, a man.
When you give a boy a gun, you don’t give him a weapon. You give him a way of life – a talent, curiosity, dreams, and friends – a place to learn about life, room to grow as a person, and bravery, and drive, and memories.
And he will have all of these things, simply because you gave a boy a gun.
And took him.