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It's interesting to look at your life, past to present, and think: "It has all led up to this...." And then wonder where it will lead to next.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Boys and Guns

Now that I have a 3 year old, an issue that has come up is play fighting and pretend weapons. It's a well known fact that give a little boy anything he can hold and point, and he'll turn it into a gun (a "bew-bew" as Aiden likes to call them), a sword, or any other deadly weapon he can imagine. This is a fairly common topic with moms with young boys at any park around here. Will we let our sons run around pretending to shoot at everything in their path? Will we let them play "swords," which will undoubtedly lead to someone falling down "dying"? I guess the general fear is that our boys will become desensitized.

Growing up I could have cared less about boys pretending to fight with weapons. I have five brothers, it was just part of life (I played along when they'd let me). We loved playing pirates, watching and reenacting "Cops" (I still find myself singing: Bad boy, bad boy, whatcha gonna do! Whatcha gonna do when they come for you!), cowboys and Indians (yes, I do realize how politically incorrect that game is now), along with any other game that involved weapons and fighting. I remember my mom coming in not to yell "Love not war!" but, "TAKE IT OUTSIDE!" All that fighting and "killing" and none of my brothers grew up to be violent. I don't think they even got into school yard fights (as far as I know, I could be wrong). In fact, they are five of the most loving, nurturing men I know.

Something changed when I had Aiden. My perfect little baby. My epitome of innocence and purity. I was not going to let the world corrupt him! I thought I would never, ever, ever let him play such violence-driven games. In my naivety I guess I thought I could help him come up with more creative, less destructive games and somehow control and curb his "male" tendencies to want to destroy everything. And believe me, I have tried. He's only three and a half and I'm already realizing how very unrealistic those thoughts were. On nature walks he finds bugs with seemingly the sole purpose of stepping on them, picks up sticks to demolish any plant in his radius, and throws rocks to see what magical thing might happen when they hit their targets. I remember showing Aiden a butterfly one day and explaining to him that we couldn't touch it's wings or else it wouldn't be able to fly. He was mesmerized and I thought how wonderful it was that he loved nature. As we walked on, I suddenly realized I was the only one walking. He had returned to the poor thing to step on it and smash it. He came running up to me holding the once beautiful creature, so thrilled that he had discovered what was inside it! Had I not grown up with brothers, I probably would have been seriously worried. I still try to encourage less destructive behavior (I am a woman after all), but I've also come to expect it.

My oldest is three and a half, I by no means have it all figured out, but one thing I have learned these last couple years is this: the bigger deal you make out of something, the more obsessed your kid will be with it. We will not have violent movies in our home and I will NEVER allow a video game system in my house (call me fanatical, or naive, but this I will stand by!), and I will do everything I am able to show them how to live as children of a loving and merciful God. Because really I think it has more to do with what you teach your children to do, than what you teach them not to do. Don't get me wrong, I do believe in boundaries and even saying the n-word ("no" yeah I know I am just so negative). I hope to raise my boys to see the hurt of the world as well as the beauty, to know the importance of compassion and "loving your neighbor as yourself." Above all else, I am going to pray diligently and fervently for them daily. Because like I said before: I do not have it all figured out (not even close)!


Serenity said...

I remember when we played "cops and robbers" it was always preferable to be a robber because you got to wear panty hose on your head and carry flour in a little plastic bag.

Vanessa Washburn said...

I grew up with one sister... I am so not ready to have a little boy. But it helps to know what I'm in for so the first time Liam smashes a bug I won't be worried that he will grow up torturing animals and living in a psych ward. And maybe one day his favorite weapon will be a sling shot. A little less violent then a gun, and made totally cool in the hands of David.