Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Boys and Guns

     I'm not a pacifist.  I have no problem with little boys playing with toy guns, theoretically.  My brothers had tons of toy guns, which they loved, and I had assumed that when I had a boy, I would probably buy him toy guns to play with, too.   That is until my mother gave Samuel a toy gun for Christmas one year.  It was camouflage and looked like a miniature military weapon.  One look at my sweet little innocent boy holding that gun, and the gun went bye, bye.  I have decided that that is a toy we can do without. 
      Most of the little boys I've known, seem almost obsessed with guns, and sometimes even gore and violence.  I was pleased to see that Samuel wasn't interested in reenacting war games, and didn't seem to have any interest in guns.  That is until recently. 
     The other day he showed me a picture he had drawn.  It was of a roughly circular shape, brightly colored in sections.  When he showed it to me, I told him how pretty it was, and asked him what it was?  I expected him to say it was a rainbow, or something like that, since he's been really into rainbows lately.  But no; he looked up at me and said, "It's a spaceship for bad guys.  They kill people."  What! Where did that come from?  He doesn't watch anything more intense than Dragon Tales.  Where did he hear about bad guys and killing people, and spaceships?!  Where did my sweet little innocent boy go?  Today he made a pistol out of legoes; and that's what he called it too.  A pistol, not just a gun. 
     All this has made me ask, is a interest in weapons and warfare something that boys instinctively have?  When I would hear other little boys talk about this or that action movie, I would think, Ah ha! That's where all this obsession with violence is stemming from.  But Samuel doesn't watch action movies.  He is hardly obsessed with violence either, but he is definitely interested in playing good guy/ bad guy games, and in shooting things.  Types of things that Anna and Abriel have never shown one iota of interest in. 
    So the bottom line is: Is this a healthy behavior?  I think the answer is yes and no.  Yes, I do think that the natural need in males to fight and protect is good.  If that means that my little boy is going to be into guns, then, well... I can deal with that.  However, I don't think that movies and shows that depict violence, gore, or killing are O.K. for boys to watch.  Images are strong and powerful, and even though the overall message of the movie may not be bad, it can be detrimental just to experience all those violent images.  Children do not belong in war, even if it is only taking place on your TV screen. 
     Currently, Samuel does not have any guns, other than what he can make himself, although I can see getting him a very simplistic, unrealistic gun some time in the future.  For right now, I would love to have him drawing rainbows just a little bit longer.

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