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True fatherhood means always watching your back

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

A few days ago I was in the shower when my 6-year-old daughter burst in the bathroom under cries of "I'm about to pee-pee in my pants." She sat across from the shower to alleviate the emergency and suddenly exclaimed "Oh my goodness, I see daddy's gigantic ..."

I must stop at this point to say this outburst elicited mixed emotions of male pride tempered by the horrors of my daughter viewing daddy naked. I know there are some psychologists who espouse that nudity is natural and no harm comes from family members cavorting around amongst themselves in the nude. I think these psychologists are morons and my family does not adhere to such liberal principlws.

All these thoughts swirled through my head as she finished her sentence, "I see daddy's gigantic ... butt."

So much for male pride. the horror inflicted upon my daughter, however, very much remains. Poor child, maybe with enough counseling she'll be able to put behind her the memory of the gigantic behind.

Near this same time, I bent to pressure from the 5-year-old boy and agreed to let him shoot his BB gun. He's had the gun, a Red Ryder no less, for about a year; bought at an NRA auction after he stood before it mesmerized as if he were an art expert viewing a never-before-seen Picasso or like me gazing at a case of beer through the liquor store window.

I had no choice. If it cost $8,000, the gun was his.

Ever since, it has been stored high on a mantle in the kitchen where only occasionally he's been allowed to fire it, without BB's and only in my presence. I promised, upon his turning five, I'd buy BB's and let him shoot it only in my presence. For six long months I stalled, but now the time had arrived.

We went out to the barn and set up some paper plate targets. He shot them, pecan trees, a crawling beetle bug, and various other inanimate objects. I stood right with him and all was well.

I then made my first of many mistakes.

I needed to dig up a pipe that was protruding from the ground and as I dug, he continued to shoot here and there. At one point, he stopped to ask me if he were shot with a BB gun would it kill him. This should have been my first clue of things to come but I simply told him it probably would not kill him, but it sure would not feel good.

A few minutes later, he walked up and tapped me on the shoulder. He looked somewhat distraught and said, "Would it hurt if someone shot you in the foot with a Red Ryder BB gun daddy?"

I said, "I suspect it would."

He then said, "Would the BB be stuck in your foot if you got shot in the foot with a Red Ryder BB gun, daddy?"

I said, "It depends, it could be stuck. Why? Did you shoot yourself with the BB gun?"

He gave a long frown, nodded his head up and down very quickly, and said, "Yeah, see."

He then proceeded to pull his shoe off and show me where he had shot himself in the top of his foot. There was a hole about the size of a BB, probably half an inch deep.

Thankfully, the BB was not there any longer. I asked him how did he manage to shoot himself in the foot. He said, "Well, daddy, you said it wouldn't kill me, so I thought it wouldn't hurt. I aimed and shot my foot."

At this point, realizing my child has the judgment of Lindsey Lohan and thankful it had not been a rifle, I asked, "Well, did it hurt?"

He nodded and said, "Not too much daddy, just a little bit, but I didn't cry. Would it hurt if I shot you in the butt?"

I knew there was a reason the box said not for children under age 10. The gun goes back in the box. The bathroom door gets a new lock.

And, I may need to hire someone to watch my back.

Contact columnist T. Gamble at t@colliergamble.com.