Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday, Boys & Play Guns

Monday, Monday... After a very hot weekend, running around gathering Teaching Supplies, School Supplies, and Yard Work, we have gathered back together to start a new week. My house is the house to be. Kids knock on the door all morning (they know now to stay away between 1 & 3), wondering if the kids can play.

The neighborhood gathered to form a war game, there are a lot of boys in the neighborhood. They ran and played for over an hour. I was so busy watching and enjoying the communication, problem solving, and camaraderie, I forgot to take photos. Oh, well.

It is interesting how boys love to play war. They spend time coming up with teams, problems to be solved, rules and boundaries. They gather supplies, ammo (invisible this time, sometimes Nerf ammo though) and an arsenal of play guns. Mostly Nerf, but tree branches have been known to make it into the mix a time or two. Then off they go, to happily "kill" one another.

Now, as a Mom to 4 boys, I went through the stage of my home being a "No Gun" Zone. I wanted to raise sensitive and non-violent sons. I wouldn't even have squirt guns. My husband thought I was crazy, the ol' "I grew up playing war, and I turned out ok" saying was played over and over again. One day, I was watching, my then 3 yr old twins, take their Little People and set up a battle between them. Another day, we were outside and they took their medicine droppers and were shooting water at each other, screaming, "I Get You, I Get You!!" This moved up to tree branches that turned to guns. Did my kids watch war movies?? No. Did I promote killing, maiming, or terrorizing in my home?? No. Did the girls next door play that way?? No. Yet, here were my young boys doing everything I was trying to keep them from knowing about. Huh.

I researched, I read books, I talked to other parents. I realized that most boys tend to go through this phase. That it is a part of evolution, teaching our boys to be men. To get them ready to be a provider for their family. Sometimes it can be about working through emotions and things they have seen or heard. I decided that instead of pretending these emotions and feelings didn't exist, I would take a proactive approach. I would talk to them, role play, set boundaries, and give them the ability to feel confident and comfortable to act out these actions. Maybe that is why they can play guns for an hour with the neighborhood kids and then in the next hour sit and have tea with the Little's at Daycare.

I don't know the right answer to this. Guns or No Guns. I don't criticize anyone who doesn't allow gun play, it is their children. My children are respectful of friends who can't play. I just make sure all my families know that play guns are in my home. No real ones, but plenty of play ones. We don't play war games in preschool, at least not with the Nerf Guns, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist outside in the yard. At least once a day one of the preschool boys picks up a stick and uses it as a sword or a gun, sometimes it turns into a group game, other times it is just that one child running around conquering pretend dinosaurs or bad guys. So, the circle continues.

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