There should really be a support group for Eskimo-spoused, vegetarian moms of Canadian origin whose 12-year-old sons are taking their hunters education test! I realize this is a narrow demographic, but today I’d make good use of it!
At 8:20 this morning I sheepishly signed a document which basically stated - I’m paraphrasing here - the two florescent-orange clad men you see before you, whom you have never met, are here-by allowed to spend the day teaching your son how to handle and fire a gun.
I signed it.
The email I received two weeks ago was supposed to be reassuring. Don’t worry, it stated, there’s no need to bring your own gun, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has 22 rifles your child can use. And fear not, there will be a very thorough permission slip for you to sign releasing us of all liability from injury to said child.
Oh yeah, feeling much better now!
This might just be me, but I’d really like the instructors to bear some responsibility for the welfare of my child! And, by the way, when they say they have 22 rifles for them to use, are they referring to quantity or type? Because I only saw two instructors, so I’m thinking there should really only be two rifles!
This is a culture-melding experience that is particularly difficult for me. Growing up, while I came from an incredibly outdoorsy family, I don’t recall ever seeing a gun. I knew some were around, but I never had to look at one, much less fire one. Now that I find myself living in a place where bears show up across the street. Suddenly a gun seems like a decent addition to the household.
Then there’s the cultural factor. My husband’s family has been hunting for survival as long as time itself. Getting a moose each fall may not be necessary for survival anymore, but it’s definitely a very important way to support the community. Hunting and fishing in the Yupik culture isn’t done for just your own family. The able bodied hunt for those who can’t. That is still the practice today.
How could I not further a cultural value of supporting others? Hence, when my 12-year-old son (who, by the way, is also a vegetarian) tells me he wants to learn how to hunt so he can go with Dad and Uppa, I say yes. I’m not going to lie; while my eyes filled with tears of joyful pride, my heart rate increased and I began employing the same breathing technique I learned in childbirth class. But I still said yes.
So here I sit. Drinking my coffee, writing to you, watching the time creep by as I wait for 2 PM - the hour my son will be returned to my care. There will be much rejoicing!
In the mean time, hee-hee-who-who, hee-hee-who-who, hee-hee-who-who...