Horrific title, I know. I remember being at dinner at the home of one of my favorite people, Sondra, and her being outraged that her kids found a duck hunting video game on their new console. They loved it. They shot pellets not actual pictures of ducks, but the point was, they were being exposed to guns. This one snapshot became my reference point for gun exposure. No Guns. No Pretend Guns. No Pretend Guns Shooting Pretend Things.
Fast forward 4 years, I was now a parent: I asked Sondra about how to stop Noah being exposed to guns. She sighed. Said it was no use, they'd just make guns out of sticks.
But Noah hasn't watched TV. He hasn't seen a movie. Nowadays it's just the two Mac Airs, sitting beside one another in perfect harmony.
Yet somehow, at the park on Sunday, the following event took place: I showed him a giant piece of bark that I'd picked up to take home, and he went off to behind the slide and I happily commented to Eug,
"Hey Eug, he might break the bark, but I'm ok with it. He's entertaining himself! Woohoo!"
To which Eug replied:
"Uhhh. Jo. I think he's shooting at us from a protected position."
"WHAT??? how does he know about shooting????"
Long story short, he's been making space ships and having strategic battles with daddy. They don't shoot, because, at the speed that spaceships move, guns would be ridiculous, apparently. They send out rockets.
And now, Noah ambushes his parents with bark at the park.
Another friend told me about his boys and their preschool. The school banned toy guns and so his son made a gun out of Legos.
Our girls have never made any toy weapons, although Emma has expressed her ambition to be a pirate. For parents of girls, the equivalent moral quandary is “Barbie.” Is she a force for good or evil?
I confess I don't worry too much about guns. I loved playing gun-fight as a kid (and spent, in retrospect, far too much of my meager funds on junky plastic guns) and now I'm the most well-adjusted pacifist you'd ever hope to meet. Also? Guns are banned everywhere children would hope to meet, and I don't think that our society is any better for it. Sooner ban materialism or blind obsequience to authority, although I don't think that would ever fly in a school setting.
So I say, let his imagination fly! With the values you're teaching him, you know he'll be a kind and loving individual with or without a firearm in hand.
I'm sleepy so I repeat words and phrases, apparently. Please pretend I have an editor to control this tendency and substitute a more creative phrasing of your choice for the second "hope to" and "fly" in the previous comment. I think "soar" would do nicely for the latter.
Thanks Darren and Dan. I found it interesting that Noah instinctively loves the idea of shooting- even though death, violence, etc, are largely all things he's shielded from- at least for now. In the absence of all those things, guns are somehow a lot less gun-like. Anyway.
I've always thought guns were about power, ie: I point at something and it changes. As such they are compelling to children who as a rule have very little power to control their situation. My mom always freaked out about gun play in the house, and I thought it made her come off as kind of crazy. I only get freaked out when Harvey calls a branded character by it's correct name.
Leah- I actually hadn't thought very deeply about the "why" of guns, so your analogy to power is very helpful. It's somehow just a gut reaction I hadn't quite processed.
I'm finding Noah and Eug can actually play together these days (in ways that I cannot) and it mainly involves battles. Yet the story engages Noah and I love that he's totally into doing something with a beginning, middle, and end.
In contrast, my play with Noah usually revolves around pretend food (and I'm more likely to be multitasking) , reading, or discussing plants.
Heh, heh, since I just wrote you a long email that mentioned gun- play in it... I thought I could expand a little here. My husband is adamant about no gun play. Although I temper is inclination a bit. His reason is understandable. He grew up with a community that supported gun play, one kid grows up, gets trained by the US killing machine (Marines, maybe) and comes home and snipers his wife. This won't happen with most kids who play guns but it scares the buhgeezes out of Jody.
My problem with gun play is that is usually dominates. It begins to be the go-to of all the neighborhood boys. Other play becomes very infrequent. We don't allow it in our house (this is our safe place too, as adults), we don't buy expensive toys to support it. But we don't make ourselves the big uglies in the hood or alienate Liam from everyone else by saying NO when everyone else is doing it. And Liam has largely come to understand (from the frequency with which he comes home crying after war games) why we are opposed to it...Crying baby.. gotta jet..
Wanted to follow up on the whole gun play thing.
Jo Jo’s 6th birthday is coming up and I was thinking of getting her a book about creating things like catapults and sling shots out of basic office supplies. I was just looking for projects that we could do together, that would encourage her to use her mind and bring into play principals of engineering.
Never really thought about it from the whole “gun angle,” outside of the boundaries I would certainly place on her use of said catapult. “No shooting your sister!”
Honestly, can’t say that I would be too worried that my daughter would turn into an antisocial person as a result, but would be interested in people’s opinions. . .
Darren- it sounds sort of fun to make catapults and such.
I'd also be interested to hear other people's opinions, but I think my line currently stands around not watching violence, not being exposed to guns online or via video, and not buying plastic guns or even water guns. I have a 2 year old, so the line is easier to keep I guess.
It'll be interesting to see what she shoots =). Good thing summer is coming to Boston.
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