Thursday, March 27, 2008

boys and their guns

There are many views on boys and their guns. Should we allow our boys to play with toy guns? Or, if not guns, should we allow them to play with pretend swords? What about water pistols (they are a kind of gun, after all)?

I probably wouldn't buy my child a toy gun. But I'm happy to allow Thomas to pretend to destroy the world. For in a modern, Western world where there are few opportunities for boys to express their aggression and high spirits, Steve and I are not going to stop them using their imaginations to act out stories, even if they involve imaginary violence. And perhaps they will confront some imaginary fears, and practise some qualities like courage, along the way.

We would change this if real violence was a problem for our sons. And maybe living in certain parts of the world would make us re-think our position. But our boys are generally gentle, and even our 4-year-old can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. We just make sure they're gentle with other children, and perhaps don't point their toy guns at other people.

Besides, have you ever tried to stop a boy playing with guns? One of the mothers I know outlawed toy guns (and fair enough, toy guns are absent from my to-buy list, too, although we do have a very small plastic one and some pretend swords in our dress-up box) and they discovered that their curved wooden train-track pieces made perfect guns.

And if you do outlaw toy guns, don't forget about chameleons. Thomas once told me he was going to "kill the whole house" with one of those.

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