a parenting dilemma

What happens when zero tolerance clashes with childhood creativity? Silliness ensues, that's what.

Kiddo#3 is an enthusiastic, rough-and-tumble kid, All Boy, All The Time. He’s the one who’s going to give me a heart attack. The next time you see a kid leaping off the swing set or hanging from the monkey bars by his ankles, that’s Kiddo#3.

Kiddo#1 is still on his baseball kick, so I bought them all balls and gloves. Does Kiddo#3 like his? Take a guess.

After seeing Narnia, Kiddo#3 has decided he will be a swordsman, and so I found him in his bedroom fighting to the death with his stuffed kangaroo. He doesn’t have a sword, so instead he was using a plastic carrot.

You can’t make this stuff up. 

Kiddo#3 wants to bring a toy with him everywhere he goes, and usually I accommodate. He even brings a toy to preschool, with the understanding that he never removes it from the book bag. It functions as a comfort object.

His choice of toy is always bizarre. Some kids love trucks. Kiddo#3 loves his imagination. Example in point: he reads a book with hamsters, and decides he wants a hamster. Since hamsters are scarce, there are none to be found in our house, so he takes two Duplo Legos and stacks them, then says to me, “Can this be my hamster?” and then for the rest of the day, the “hamster” accompanies us on our errands. 

Before going to preschool, as he searched for a toy to carry in his school bag, he had a brilliant idea. 

“Can I take my sword?” he asked, brandishing the carrot.

I present to you my parenting dilemma. You see, the school has a zero tolerance policy on preschoolers bringing weapons to class. A sword is a weapon, and my Kiddo should not skewer his classmates for the honor of Aslan.

Yet, it’s a carrot. It’s clearly a plastic carrot, utterly harmless and equal in nutrition to much of the truck-farmed carrots you find in your local grocery store. The school does not have a zero tolerance policy against carrots.

And yet, he’s pretending it’s a sword. That makes it a weapon.

But clearly, it’s not a sword. That makes it a carrot.

In the end, I allowed him to take the sword… I mean, the carrot… He took the thing to school in his book bag, tucked neatly at the bottom, and as with every other time he’s brought a toy to school this year, he never touched it while he was there.

Parenting manuals do not prepare you for the everyday ethical dilemmas of parenting a preschooler, nor have I found guidance for this in sacred scripture.

“The many armies of the Lord have advanced against the forces of the enemy, brandishing their swords and their plastic carrots to defend His people. A great and mighty force of deranged preschoolers with too much imagination. And lo, the Lord will shepherd them while trying desperately not to laugh.”

Or maybe God does laugh. I hope so.


  1. CricketB

    Quote from my current reading, Laurie R. King, The Art of Detection:

    “They’re all fine… [lists his kids and five words about each], and Daniel has discovered guns.”

    “Oh, Jani must be pleased about that.”

    “The genetic inclination of boys, I suppose, to make weapons out of anything. Sticks, Legos, organic vegetarian hot dogs.”


    We have a no to guns rule, but allowing water pistols. A plastic gun is always a plastic gun. Other things, yes, will be made into guns, but can be many other things as well.

    As for sticks, the kids enjoy this one:


  2. Jenni

    It’s funny with all the toys nowadays (that we didn’t have as kids) imagination is still key. A bed sheet still makes an awesome princess cape that will rival any Disney dress out there and couch pillows are a lot more fun for a fort than the plastic stuff in the backyard.

    And where your son brings his toy, my sister took her “class”. She had a pocketbook that she would carry everywhere while pretending to be a teacher and her “kids” dutifully followed her into the Piggly Wiggly. I wonder if preschools have a policy against bringing an extra class to class. 😉

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