I’ve been feeling a tad put out with my youngest’s fascination with guns and violence recently. I hate aggressive play in general with an absolute passion. You know in the school yard when fights used to break out, and you’d get a huge crowd of kids all standing round egging them on? Well, I was never amongst the crowd. I’d be at the other end of the school trying to find a teacher to tell, so that they’d come and break it up before someone got hurt. Little Miss Do Gooder, that’s me! And I don’t care even if you do think that. Violence makes me sick.
So when my son holds a toy gun to my head and shouts ‘I’m going to shoot your head off’ something inside me curls up into a little ball and I think, what am I doing letting him ‘play’ with things like this? When he tell me or his sister to ‘lie down, be dead’ after he’s mimed shooting me or her, I feel absolutely repulsed. I’ve resisted having toy guns in the house for years, but now we have a couple. One tiny white plastic one that came from an action man that was left in the house we’ve just bought, and another huge Star Wars one that Horace bought for the kids for Christmas that Sausage has just started playing with. It makes a really loud ‘Pow-pow!’ noise every time he presses the trigger, which he does an awful lot.
I know a lot of mums let their kids play with toy guns, and that is their perogative, I’m not judging anyone – I’m just looking at my own attitude and wondering whether I’m being over the top or not – or if I really do have a right to feel like this. I can’t possibly take the Star Wars one away because Sausage loves it. You see that in itself seems wrong, he loves the gun, he loves pretending to shoot things, including our kitty. I even found him asleep with the little plastic gun in his bed last night, like it was a teddy bear. I tell him that he can shoot the Star Wars gun at inanimate objects, but he gets told off if he aims it at me or anything that’s alive, if I’m on the ball that is.
Years ago, I worked at the police station as a Communications Operative (I wasn’t a proper copper) and as part of my training I was once asked to attend a firearms training afternoon. It was so that if anyone dialled 999 and described a man with a gun, we could attempt to establish what sort of gun it was, and the police who arrived on scene would be better prepared to deal with the situation. There was a group of about six of us, and we all dutifully sat there whilst the firearms experts showed us the different sorts of guns, the sights, the size of them, how they were held, etc. Obviously they were without bullets, and completely harmless.
Having said that, I still remember even now the recoil I felt in the pit of my stomach when one of the trainers held one of the guns up and pointed it towards me. I thought ‘I never, ever, EVER want to see one of these again!’ and something inside of me clicked. I hate guns, they are used to kill and maim people and animals. If I could rewind all the videos and DVD’s that my children have watched that feature guns, sometimes I think I would. I’d rather they didn’t even know they existed. But I suppose this is the world they live in. People do shoot and kill each other. And even in our sheltered suburban lives, people shoot each other in films for our entertainment. How wrong does that seem?
I’ve heard it said that, boys will be boys! Let them get on with it! But I don’t think in this instance I can. A few weeks ago I stood in the school playground while three boys played together. It was all very good natured, but one was playfully knocked to the floor, the other then mimed cutting his throat while another child pretended to shoot him in the head three times. One of the mothers of the children casually stood there and chatted about the weather to her friend in full view of this. No-one batted an eyelid. I felt the same feeling I used to have all those years ago when people would start battering the hell out of each other in school playground. It’s horrible, I can’t see why anyone would think that this is a productive way to ‘play’. Surely we’re teaching our children to think that violence, guns and aggression is ok. Personally I don’t think it is, but maybe that’s just me being an over the top mum.
This is probably one of those subjects people take sides on, and I think I’ve stated very clearly which side of the line I’m on. I can’t help it though, it’s something that is completely ingrained in my spirit. I don’t want guns, real or make-believe in my life, or in my children’s lives. It makes me so sad now to admit that these two guns are two of my son’s favourite toys now and that tomorrow he will actively hunt out the one featured at the top of this blog, and will raise it to the window to aim at birds, occasionally shouting ‘Kill!’ even though I’ve told him a million times not to. If I took them off him, it would be classed as mean wouldn’t it? And anyway, he’d then just pretend and use his hands as a gun wouldn’t he? What is there to do?! It just seems tragic, he’s 3 years old and pretending to take life away from something is a game. I despair of my parenting skills sometimes and of the world we live in. Surely we can make a difference can’t we, or do we have to accept violence and guns as part of the learning about life process for children. I just don’t know!
Apologies for the seriousness of this evening’s topic, I just felt sick when I found Sausage curled up with this monstrosity this morning, in the place of one of his favourite teddies.