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Finger gun a menace? So is childhood

I was stunned by news that the Montgomery County, Md., public school system had suspended a first-grader for pointing his finger like a gun and saying “pow.”

I was stunned that he was the only one rounded up.

First-graders have been getting away with horrible, heinous crimes for far too long. Just because you’re 6 is no excuse.

What about all the children who get away, every year, with spreading “cooties”? Clearly, this is a threat of biological warfare. They should be expelled – and then quarantined.

What about all the kids who climb into boxes and announce that they are rocket ships? This violates lots of building codes, and those crafts are clearly not spaceworthy.

What about the kids who simulate car crashes with their plastic cars? Cars are far deadlier weapons than finger guns, and you need a license to drive them. Where are their licenses?

Do you know the number of innocent cruise ships, liners and rubber ducks sunk by careless 6-year-old children daily? It makes the Pol Pot regime pale in comparison.

Hide and seek? Sounds Nazi.

What about all the kids who build block towers? Surely that’s a violation of union rules and safety codes. Where are their helmets? Why aren’t they being compensated? How dare they do it on weekends?

What about all of the children, 6 and older, who create Monopolies, control large swaths of Boardwalk and charge onerous rates to hotel visitors?

Play doctor? That’s definitely malpractice. Ring around the rosy? That’s a reference to bubonic plague, which should not be taken so lightly.

Look at all of the countless Operations performed by 6-year-olds in which the patient is carelessly left to die, nose flaring red. How can we stand by and allow this to happen?

Every day, children go rampaging through imaginary cities. Their tea parties are strafed by rogue dinosaurs, riding in bombers. In the middle of Very Important Telephone Calls From Hospitals or the president, they get bored and walk away.

They create monarchies and destroy them. They bury teddy bears alive in exploding volcanoes. They strand endangered species in the middle of lagoons, take Furbies prisoner and subject stuffed rabbits to unspeakable head traumas. They create multicar pileups. Then, after arrogating such arbitrary power to themselves, they have the gall to go take naps.

I was distressed to learn that those trains of first-graders tied together between teachers and marching single-file were not, in fact, chain gangs of tiny Jean Valjeans being made to pay for their crimes. What kind of a society are we, where children can play and use their imaginations and not have their actions be taken as threats?

I believe in the power of the imagination as much as the next human, but this is a bit much.

This is a parody of itself. A 6-year-old boy had to sit down with a counselor and have it explained to him that he couldn’t make this threatening gesture? Can we hear ourselves?

The school system, hearing the outcry, has rescinded the suspension. But what’s next?

Soon, 6-year-old children will be forced to sit indoors playing Sensitivity Training and delivering PowerPoint lectures to each other on Safety Within the Home and Workforce Best Practices.

If we have a problem with 6-year-old boys pointing fake guns, the place to start is not the kids. We are the ones who populate their imaginations. They are only doing what they are taught.

Children used to play Cowboys and Indians or Cops and Robbers. These days, they’d be arraigned for genocide and theft. If we have a problem with children with imaginary guns, the answer is not to clamp down on their imaginations. They only put out what we put in.

Alexandra Petri is a member of the Washington Post’s editorial staff.

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